A farmers’ son, Sothea appreciates that nothing tastes as good as just-picked ingredients, which is why he established organic gardens opposite and adjacent to Lum Orng, and at Issan Lodge, his self-catering accommodation and cooking school nearby, as well as a farm at Beng Mealea, 65 kilometres from Siem Reap.

Sothea loves Cambodian produce – from the native ingredients, edible flowers, fragrant herbs and bitter leaves beloved by Cambodians to the produce introduced over centuries by traders from everywhere from India and China to Spain and Portugal, and the French during colonial times.

Depending on the season, Sothea grows tropical fruits such as jackfruit, mango, papaya, coconut, banana, palm fruit, pineapple, watermelon, and cashew nuts; vegetable that include long beans, wing beans, corn, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, cabbage, sweet potatoes, bok choy, and morning glory; and herbs, roots and leaves, such as lemongrass, galangal, noni leaves, and various basils, corianders and mints.

Concerned about the environment and committed to sustainability, wherever possible Sothea’s farmers grow organically and when not possible they follow Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), a set of globally recognised principles addressing environmental protection, food security, health safety, nutrition, and social and economic sustainability. What they can’t grow, they’ll purchase from organic farmers, local markets, and trusted suppliers.