Blog: Tom Douglas’ gold-mine idea

Sam Ung (left), owner of Phnom Penh Noodle House, demonstrates fruit carving to a room of students as Tom Douglas looks on. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Celebrity chef Tom Douglas brought 38 students to Phnom Penh Noodle House last Thursday to learn Sam Ung’s fruit carving technique. If you knew how much Douglas’ summer program cost, your jaw might drop. Apparently, his fans don’t worry too much about the current recession.

This was part of Douglas’ $2,500 summer camp. No, not $2,500 for the whole group but per student. It’s a five-day culinary class. Douglas made good money in the project.

One student told me how wonderful the experience was — eating everyday around town. The age group of the students ranged from young to old. There were some Asians in the crowd.

How come no one has designed an International District (ID) culinary experience? We have plenty of diverse and interesting cuisine in the area.

The only trouble is, cooking is not the only skill required for a food tour. Most chefs here don’t speak English. They also lack the stage presence national celebrity chef Martin Yan has. Yan was charismatic, funny and entertaining during a cooking demonstration I attended.

Another challenge is marketing. Even if we coach the chefs to be dynamic in their presentations, someone has to create a unique marketing plan to appeal to a mass audience. ♦

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