Having set the bar for French fine dining in the capital, Topaz isn’t resting on its laurels as it flies in renowned international chefs to impart their wisdom to the kitchen. Editor Marissa Carruthers and photographer Enrc Català sample the flavours of the latest guest chef.

Already renowned for serving up the most sophisticated French food, Topaz is offering an extra something special to keep its offerings fresh.

Its Dine with the Stars series sees top international chefs invited to the restaurant to design an exclusive menu drawing on their native tastes. This is followed by a few intense days in the kitchen teaching the staff how to cook up a storm before being served to diners for a limited duration.

The latest event saw guest chef Christian Peyre fly into Cambodia, bringing with him shipments of some of the finest French food, ranging from partridge and guinea fowl to scallops and snails, to create a six-course feast and a la carte menu to match.

Mouth-watering meals took in a range of the Michelin-starred chef’s famous dishes, including pan-fried scallops with leek and Vaucluse truffle ravioli, petit gris snails in ragu with tomato concasse and parsley butter, and pigeon with ginger and carrot sorbet.

Seasoned chef Sopheak Pov, who has worked at Topaz for more than 14 years, says, “It has been very interesting learning to cook these meals. I have cooked with many of the ingredients before but not in this way.”

Despite game meat featuring predominantly on the menu, which could be regarded as heavy in Cambodia’s heat, each dish is given a refreshing twist to lighten up the taste. The guinea fowl supreme with lemon and tarragon ($30) is a refreshing bite. The guinea fowl is pan-fried and stuffed with a lemon confit and drizzled in a tarragon sauce to balance out the flavours by adding slightly sour notes.

The saddle of roasted hare with autumn garnish ($55) presents a much heavier meal. The well-plated dish presents a generous serving of hare, which has a taste and texture reminiscent of liver. It is served with fresh artichoke, mushrooms and marinated grapes, paying testament to the autumn tastes of Peyre’s homeland.

The stuffed frogs leg tempura ($12) – also flown over from France –  sees plump frogs legs marinated in salt and pepper batter and pan-fried for a few minutes before resting on a bed of soft red Camargue rice, which is cultivated in the wetlands of the Camargue region of southern France and has a slightly nutty taste. It is topped off with a sauce of parsley, olive oil, garlic and butter.

With a career spanning almost 40 years in some of the finest kitchens in France, Peyre’s passion lies in celebrating the earthy, vibrant flavours of his native Provence and the Mediterranean. In 1995, he earned his first of three Michelin Stars, before launching his own hotel and restaurant La Maison du Domaine de Bournissac, a 14th century monastery in the heart of Provence, in 2003.

With a series of other internationally-renowned chefs being sourced for 2017, Topaz looks set to welcome more flavours from across the world.

162 Norodom Boulevard, Phnom Penh.
Tel: 023 221 622.
Open daily from 11am to 2pm and 5.30pm to 10.30pm.