Joannes Riviere at Cuisine Wat Damnak

When dining on the streets or in a local restaurant in Southeast Asia it is almost guaranteed that the ingredients are as local as it gets. But this has yet to translate to the higher end restaurants or five-star hotels which rely on foreign, imported products.  Fortunately there are chefs like Frenchman Joannès Rivière at Cuisine Wat Damnak.  Born and raised in Roanne, in the Loire Valley, Joannès’ family supplied organic vegetables to the famed three-star Michelin Le Maison Troisgros.

In 2003, following his early years of apprenticeship in France and the eastern coast of the United States Joannès moved to Siem Reap, Cambodia to teach underprivileged kids at the NGO Sala Bai Hotel School. During this time, he wrote the first known Cambodian cookbook to be printed in English and French.

He then became Executive Chef at Hotel de la Paix, one of Siemp Reap’s most prestigious hotels. Increasingly Joannès researched Cambodia’s local produce and regional dishes eventually developing a degustation menu highlighting Cambodian cuisine. But it was a cheese course, in which a guest received three mass produced industrial imported cheeses, that was the tipping point for Joannès to eschew working with imported products and cuisines and to focus on refining and showcasing the best that Cambodia has to offer.

I met up with Joannès in the courtyard of his highly acclaimed restaurant, Cuisine Wat Damnak in Siem Reap, Cambodia to shoot the video interview below.

[vimeo w=560&h=315]
Can’t see the video? Click here.