Crafting Culinary Stories in Cambodia

Posted by OmarTarakiNiodeFoundation
31 December 2016 | blogpost

How do we write and take pictures for compelling culinary articles that make readers eager to cook the foods written in it? Last June, three well-known figures in the international culinary community tried to answer this question by conducting an intensive workshop for 6 days in the City of Siem Reap, Cambodia, entitled: Crafting Culinary Stories: An Intensive Workshop on Food Photography and Writing.

Gateway to Angkor

The instructors were David Hagerman, a freelance photographer for the New York Times and Saveur magazine, along with Robyn Eckhardt food writer and cookbook author of “Istanbul and Beyond.” Both are creators of “Eating Asia,” winner of Saveur Best Flood Blog Award. Another instructor was Dianne Jacob, an award-winning author for her book “Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Memoir, Recipes, and More.” The book has been a reference for food writers in the last ten years.

The City of Siem Reap in Cambodia is the gateway to Angkor, a temple area covering 400km2, a major tourist destination. After a morning sight- seeing in the area that was built in the 12th century, international visitors usually look for a unique culinary experience in the afternoon and evening.

Cambodian Cuisine

Although Cambodian food is not as famous as the foods in its neighboring countries of Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia cuisines are starting to gain recognition. Food ingredients always present in Cambodian food include cloves, cinnamon, fennel, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and turmeric. Galangal, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, cilantro, and lime are also used to create a blend of typical spices known as "kroeung". There are two other unique ingredients that give typical flavor in Cambodian cuisines. One is prahok, fermented fish paste and kapi, fermented shrimp paste.

Participants in the Crafting Culinary Stories in Siem Reap were limited to only 9 people. They came from the United States, Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia, represented by Omar Niode Foundation. They are food bloggers, food writers, and food & travel photographers with a wide range of experience who would like to gain more skills.

Cinematic Fiction

The workshop begins with a home-style Cambodian dinner, followed the next day by presentations from Robyn, Dianne and David on how to find the source for interesting culinary stories, how to weave words to become like a cinematic fiction, as well as tips to make a compelling photo essay.

Participants learned the basic ingredients used for recipes in Cambodian cuisines. They also visited an organic farming and animal husbandry, as well as a traditional market, followed by cooking typical Cambodian cuisine led by Chef Pola, the owner Mie Café. In all events, David Hagerman was always present, assisting participants in taking pictures to support their culinary writing. Dinners were alywas in places that serve traditional food, as well as fusion cuisine, but still using the typical Cambodian ingredients.

Towards the end of the workshop, each participant felt very satisfied because they had more knowledge and had a chance for consultations with David and Dianne about their career aspirations, their portfolio, or just to talk about anything with food topic.

For information about the next workshop in Asia and Europe please contact Robyn Eckhardt via email


All images by Omar Niode Foundation