Students Hope To Cook Up a Better Future

She has worked hard as a maid for years to pay $500 for a cooking class in the hopes of a better job, or even attaining a bigger dream: her own restaurant.

“I’ve had to save for a long time, and now I’m very hopeful,” Om Savan, 29, said.

Om Savan is one of 14 students who have started a yearlong Certificate in Culinary Skills program supervised by the Cam­bodia Hotel and Tourism Acad­emy. The program is the first of its kind.

“It’s our commitment for hu­man resource and development to provide world-class hotel operations to employers and people in the business community,” said Richard Helfer, CEO of Raffles International Ltd, the company running the course.

Besides the basics of world-class cuisine, which students will study for six months in the classroom before moving on for on-the-job training, the course also offers English language classes and computer training as well.

“I teach them basic Western and Asian food,” said instructor Melvyn Young Yew Yong, 46. “They should work about one or two more years, and then they can open a restaurant by themselves within the next five years.”

The group hopes to get more NGO support for future programs so that more Cambodians can take advantage of the training.

Government leaders are enthusiastic about the class.

“This is another important step to grow industry by building a human-resources foundation so that we can move forward,” said Veng Sereyvuth, minister of tourism.

Although the classes only started four weeks ago, some of the students already are brimming with self-confidence.

“I will work in an international restaurant for a few years,” said Lim Boravy, 21. “I will open a restaurant later on.”



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