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Academy of Culinary Arts in Cambodia aims to professionalize hospitability standards in Cambodia

Harrison White

Cambodia’s only internationally recognized hospitality and culinary school, the Academy of Culinary Arts Cambodia (ACAC) recently hosted its open day aiming to attract local students to join the school.

Starting in 2016, the Academy trains recent high school graduates and those looking for a career switch with a two-year curriculum that includes two six-month domestic and international internships.

Over 500 visitors had the opportunity to learn more about the program, explore the facilities, meet the chef instructors, and further enquire about the potential of joining the profession, and the hospitality industry.

During a site visit Cambodia Investment Review was able to see the world-class facilities and meet both the students and teachers at the school’s kitchen and restaurant located in central Phnom Penh.

ACAC aims to raise standards in Cambodia’s tourism sector

Nicole Loretan from ACAC told Cambodia Investment Review that the country’s tourism industry is a key contributor to its economic growth and addressing Cambodia’s skills gap and youth unemployment is one of the Academy’s main objectives.

The ACAC is under the Professional Institute of Excellence, an Association owned and chaired by the Cambodian Tourism Federation which brings strong alliances with the leaders of established hotels and restaurants and provides students with unparalleled opportunities for internships, on-the-job training, and guaranteed job placements upon graduation,” she said.

ACAC students train at the schools headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Reflecting on the country’s push out of the COVID era Nicole Loretan said despite the recent pandemic, the food and beverage industry is still one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, with growth outpacing the economy, and offers a large variety of career opportunities.

“For qualified professionals, the employment landscape within the hospitality industry is promising and diverse. Graduating ACAC students can easily access the professional world by quickly climbing the hierarchical ladder to high positions within the culinary sector as well as to management roles throughout the industry spectrum,” she said.

Working with the private sector

The school was developed as a public-private partnership (PPP) and with fundings from the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Dubai Cares and the tuition fees of students.

A key feature of the training the Academy provides is its partnership with the Swiss Hotel Management School in Lucerne, where selected students can go for additional skills development. Others have done internships in Dubai, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Spain, and France.

Cambodia’s tourism and hospitability industry has been tasked with increasing the number of high-value tourist destinations and increasing the average spending by tourists in Cambodia. According to reports before the pandemic, Cambodia earned $4.919 billion in 2019 from tourism and is considered a pillar of the country’s economy.

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