Born in Kampong Cham, 250 kilometres from Siem Reap, Chef Sothea Seng grew up on the family farm where he began cooking at age ten. His career has taken him from luxury hotel kitchens in Cambodia, Dubai and the Caribbean to opening his first restaurant Mahob Khmer in 2013, and now his most personal, Lum Orng.
As a child growing up in the countryside, Sothea learnt to cook for his family, while his dad worked the fields and mum sold things at the front of their traditional house. It was inevitable he’d become a chef. When Sothea’s work took him from Siem Reap’s Le Meridien to Dubai’s Grand Hyatt, where he cooked Italian and Vietnamese, he dreamt of returning home to cook Cambodian food.
Back in Cambodia in 2008, Sothea worked as executive chef, F&B manager and consultant to luxury hotels and restaurants, before meeting wife Sonita Chao with whom he began opening restaurants, and boutique accommodation and cooking school on an organic garden aimed at culinary travellers. Lum Orng is Sothea’s most personal project to date – a farm-to-table restaurant that he wants to be a destination for diners, as much as food-lovers eager to cook Cambodian food, and chefs keen to collaborate.