Cambodia - Topaz Restaurant
Phnom Penh's French gem
Alain Darc, Officier Maître Rôtisseur, and his son, Arnaud Darc, Chargé de Missions

The Chaîne News On-line meets Alain Darc, Officier Maître Rôtisseur, and his son, Arnaud Darc, Chargé de Missions, who have brought high-end French cuisine to Cambodia.

A father and son team from the deep south-west of France have become leaders in the drive for culinary and hospitality excellence in Cambodia. Directors of Thalias Hospitality Group, Alain ‘Papa’ Darc and Arnaud are united not just by their blood ties, but also by their shared passion for food, entrepreneurialism and a strong desire to support Cambodians as they continue building their knowledge and skills in a country that boasts a surprisingly rich and dynamic culinary scene.

Food and hospitality are deeply embedded in Arnaud and Papa’s DNA. The family tree is peppered with wine makers and chefs at least as far back as 1773, when their ancestor served as Officier de Bouche to King Louis Philippe I. Papa’s father earned the highly coveted titles of Meilleur Ouvrier de France and Maître Cuisinier de France.

Arnaud first arrived in Cambodia in 1994 on an internship as a cost controller for Sofitel Cambodiana in Phnom Penh. Here, he served with the Accor group for three years before taking a leap and moving on to his own ventures, including co-founding Topaz in 1997. Under his stewardship, the restaurant has grown to become the flagship for a hospitality group that now employs 500 people and has become a byword for authenticity, excellence and leadership.

Originally a Franco-Thai fine dining establishment, Topaz soon evolved to focus almost exclusively on high-end French cuisine. Its mission includes not only bringing classic French flavours to a sophisticated local and tourist market, but also introducing the latest trends, techniques and ideas from France’s most exciting chefs. Creating exceptional events to reward its customers also allows the restaurant to attract a rich wellspring of talent and inspiration from which its team continues to learn and grow.

After a long and illustrious career marked by awards, innovation and a mission to promote French cuisine across the globe, Papa Darc arrived in Cambodia in 2005 and soon joined the team as Executive Chef at Topaz. After handing the mantle to the current Executive Chef, Sopheak Pov, Maître Rôtisseur, he remains in a supporting position as quality controller and a mentor to the team, especially Sopheak.

Since his arrival in Cambodia Papa has also been deeply involved with “Pour Un Sourire d’Enfant”, an NGO dedicated to supporting destitute Cambodian children to develop the skills they need to determine their own futures. In addition to training students, many of whom have gone on to work with Thalias, he remains involved with the organisation today.

Arnaud, in addition to his role as CEO of Thalias Hospitality Group, is President of the French-Cambodian Chamber of Commerce and Executive Treasurer of the Cambodia Hotel Association. He has also been awarded the title of Knight of ‘l’Ordre du Mérite National’ by the government of France.

Both men are highly active in the Chaîne.

Nicky Sullivan