Culinary Specialists (CS) participating in Pacific Partnership 2012
(PP12) took part in a culinary subject matter expert exchange (SMEE),
30 July, at Starfish Bakery in Sihanoukville.
The SMEE participants exchanged
techniques such as garnishes and food presentation as well as
Chief Culinary Specialist Renato Faustino was the officer-in-charge
of the SMEE and led a team of eight CS’s during the day’s events.
“We have been here at Starfish Bakery all day teaching the workers
new ways to present their food,” Faustino said. “For example, we
taught them how to use things like herbs or syrups to enhance the
presentation of their foods.”
In addition to teaching food presentation methods, the PP12 team
also taught the basics of sanitation.
“Today we performed sanitizing instruction for the people here,”
Faustino said. “We taught them the importance of hand washing, as
well as how to sanitize their tools and work stations. Teaching
proper sanitation techniques helps to increase the overall health of
both the people working at the bakery as well as the customers they
Starfish Bakery is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that works
with handicapped and disabled host nation citizens, providing them
with jobs and teaching them life skills.
Riikka Knuutila works as the head coordinator for Starfish Bakery.
“I came to Cambodia from Finland about six years ago after a friend
insisted I come visit. I immediately fell in love with this country
and its people,” Knuutila said. “I created this bakery soon
afterwards to help give handicapped and disabled people here a
chance to work.”
“When they come to work for me, I help them learn these skills as
well as practice speaking English, which will help them to have
better opportunities should they choose to pursue a career,” she
The PP12 team worked side-by-side with the workers at the bakery to
exchange new ideas about food and family recipes.
Culinary Specialist 2nd Class James Peter worked at the SMEE and
said he enjoyed teaching the food from his culture to the people of
“The SMEE was important because it allowed us to learn about the way
another country eats and thus to learn about the culture of its
people,” said Peter. “Recipes are passed down from parent to child
for generations, and to be able to learn from them and share stories
about cooking and our experiences was a very special moment for us
The SMEE was one of many events PP12 is taking part in to help
create new relationships and build on existing friendships between
the crew of PP12 and the people of Cambodia.
Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is a U.S. Pacific Fleet
humanitarian and civic assistance mission designed to build stronger
relationships and disaster response capabilities in the Asia-Pacific