In Khmer, Lum Orng means ‘pollen’, a grain that fertilises and gives life. For Sothea Seng, whose farm-to-table philosophy is rooted in seasonality and sustainability, it’s a symbol of growth and regeneration, and a metaphor for his journey as a chef as passionate about preserving Cambodia culinary traditions as exploring new directions.
For the last five years at his Siem Reap restaurant Mahob Khmer, chef Sothea has dedicated himself to elevating traditional Cambodian food while preserving Cambodia’s culinary heritage – much of which was lost during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime of the late 1970s, and is at risk due to the lack of understanding about Cambodian food – and growing much of his own produce at his organic gardens and farm at Beng Mealea.
Lum Orng represents a renewal for the chef in terms of both his desire to develop an inventive New Mekong Cuisine that reflects Cambodia’s long rich culinary history, and the expansion of his farm-to-table philosophy and commitment to sustainability with the establishment of a restaurant with herbs growing in the garden and a farm across the road.
Looking beyond Cambodia’s borders, Sothea is develop relationships with growers and producers in neighbouring countries. So alongside the Tonle Sap’s freshwater fish and seafood from Cambodia’s coast, you can expect to see anything from organic beef from Surin, Thailand, to buffalo mozzarella from Laos on future Lum Orng menus.