Siem Reap goes sus­tain­able

A new café in Siem Reap serves Cam­bo­dian street-food with a dif­fer­ence.

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Travel News -

They say every meal at Spoons makes a dif­fer­ence to some­one liv­ing in the north Cam­bo­dian tourist city of Siem Reap. Opened late last year, the rus­tic-chic café serves pol­ished Cam­bo­dian street food in a cut­ting-edge bam­boo build­ing con­structed from raw ma­te­ri­als supplied by a sus­tain­able farm­ing en­ter­prise. The sup­ply chain, from nap­kins to veg­eta­bles to rice liquor, is res­o­lutely lo­cal, and the staff are young hospitality trainees from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds.

Spoons, run by hospitality school EGBOK, is the lat­est in a raft of com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives aimed at eas­ing the grow­ing pains of Siem Reap. About 2.2 mil­lion tourists vis­ited the city last year, drawn by the nearby tem­ple com­plex of Angkor Wat.

The first sub­stan­tial com­mu­nity project was Asana Or­ganic Farm­ers Mar­ket, which opened two years ago in the last tra­di­tional house in the colo­nial quar­ter. Green Gecko Project’s re­cy­cling busi­ness, called Re­hash Trash, trains im­pov­er­ished women to cro­chet colourful ot­tomans and place­mats from plas­tic bags, while the #Re­fillNotLand­fill cam­paign has per­suaded scores of tourism busi­nesses to of­fer guests re­us­able alu­minium bot­tles that can be re­filled free at fil­tered-wa­ter sta­tions. The aim is to re­duce the 4.6 mil­lion plas­tic wa­ter bot­tles dis­carded by visitors monthly.

The rip­ple ef­fect of th­ese ini­tia­tives is felt through­out the coun­try. Spoons, for in­stance, is com­mit­ted to us­ing as many eco-friendly prod­ucts as pos­si­ble, from biodegrad­able straws and menus printed on ba­nana-tree pa­per to place­mats wo­ven from waste plas­tic. Used cook­ing oil is con­verted into bio­fu­els and soap, and food waste that can’t be com­posted is given to lo­cal farm­ers for use as an­i­mal feed.

On the ta­ble ex­pect fruity cock­tails based on in­fused rice spir­its, and street food-style dishes such as grilled chicken skew­ers mar­i­nated in kroe­ung, an aro­matic Cam­bo­dian herb paste. Spoons, Bam­boo Rd, Wat Dam­nak Vil­lage, Siem Reap, Cambodia, eg­bok­mis­ LARA DUNSTON


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