Luu Meng, a well-known Cambodian chef, has overcome obstacles for more than 30 years in the food industry, both domestically and abroad.
Meng was born in Phnom Penh and after graduating from high school he studied tourism hospitality management in Bangkok, Thailand and then continued to study in Malaysia, where he studied culinary arts and became a chef.
After graduating in 1992, he returned to Cambodia and began his career as a chef on the bottom-rung in local kitchens.
“I started working as a chef from the lowest level and through years of work earned promotion up to the highest level,” he said.
He has traveled to many parts of Cambodia to research the recipes used by Cambodian people in different regions to compile them into books in order to preserve the tastes of the rich Khmer food heritage.
Meng has also promoted the Kampot pepper sector to the international market, helping it to become recognized around the world, which has helped many Cambodian farmers at all levels.
Today he has become the owner of one of the largest food and beverage companies in Cambodia and he plays an important role in the food industry, which is one of the reasons he was selected as a “exceptional person” in a 2022 competition organized by ABC beverages.
Regarding his decision to become a chef instead of a more conventional choice like hotel manager following his graduation, Meng said he followed his heart.
“At that time, I really learned a lot about hotel management and hospitality and that field has many different aspects involved with it, but I decided to learn the skills necessary to be a chef because I love to cook,” he said.
Meng is currently CEO of Almond Hotel, an executive with the Thalias Hospitality Group and also still working as a professional chef in the restaurant at the Almond Hotel.
In addition to all of his business pursuits, he has already participated in compiling two books on Cambodian cuisine and in 2023 he will be involved with compiling chapters for three different books on Khmer food.
Meng offered his advice for young Cambodians who want to excel in the culinary arts.
“Young people who would love to have a career as a chef like me, please pay attention to and love the culture we have. Like me, I continue to move forward because this work is very important; and also because we eat three times a day. Whether they are guests, friends, low-ranking people, high-ranking people – all people, in general, need to eat three times each day.
“Food is one of the main factors in our daily life. If we love this profession, we hold tight on to it and make food that is delicious. If we do that, then those who are sad will need us, those who are happy will need us and our food will make people happy together.
“This career, being a chef, is very important. No matter what time it is, with or without Covid-19, there is always someone who needs an expert in this field,” he said.