Mao Davin (left) speaks with Academy founder, Pierre Tami.
Mao Davin is the first recipient of the Naomi Tami Memorial Scholarship. She began her culinary arts journey as part of the Academy of Culinary Arts Cambodia’s first cohort of students and is now into her apprenticeship at the popular, fast-paced, Oskar Bistro in Phnom Penh.
Oskar Bistro lies in the heart of Phnom Penh’s tourist area and serves classic French and European dishes with a modern twist.
“When I first started at Oskar, I was scared and apprehensive,” Davin says. “I feared I couldn’t prepare the recipes like the chef asked, but the chef helped make me feel at ease and welcomed me. He asked the other staff to be helpful and understand that I came from learning at the ACAC for six months.”
Mao Davin worked at Oskar Bistro for two months in the kitchen’s cold section and was recently promoted. She has learned to prepare Thai and Western dishes and regularly makes all kinds of salads and desserts, including tiramisu and apple pie for restaurant patrons.
“I am very happy working at Oskar,” Davin says. “I am enjoying becoming a chef even though I have to work fast and under pressure for the clients to be served on time with quality.”
The Academy was a good training ground and Davin felt prepared going into her internship. Working in a fast-paced restaurant is a big learning curve and she has learned lots of new things on the job.
“At ACAC, we would cook one recipe in a group of five people, but at Oskar, I have to cook many recipes and prepare them on time for clients,” she says. “I can handle the pressure and the long hours.”
Mao Davin loves to prepare Oskar’s famous salad, a dish that includes duck breast and cheese. Her favourite dessert to make is the “mango jar” which boasts mango and passion fruit, cookies and tiramisu.
“The most important thing I’ve learned during the internship is real life experience, working with people and learning form the executive chef,” she says. “My relationship with the other staff is good and I feel like they like me.”
Mao Davin has made a positive impression on Oskar’s chef, Antony Pagani, who says she is passionate and has the right attitude and motivation for the profession.
After just two months working at Oskar, Davin has been promoted to the position of Demi Chef de Partie in the Cold Kitchen, which puts her partially in charge of food production and dishes in the cold kitchen.
“Davin is a quick learner who can work independently and does not need much of supervision to produce food of high quality,” Antony Pagani says.
Mao Davin hardly believed she was the recipient of the Naomi Tami Memorial Scholarship with the opportunity to work at a famous local restaurant. Even though the restaurant business is fast paced, Davin feels happy and fulfilled.
When she thinks about the future, Davin dreams of becoming a chef and of working overseas in Switzerland. Her internship finishes on March 28, 2018.