It was 11 months and 6 days ago when our cookbook team began working on the new Lao cookbook – ‘from Honeybees to Pepperwood’. Tonight (June 2nd) all of that hard work came to fruition as we celebrated the official launch at our Makphet restaurant in Vientiane.
Sporadic showers fell over Vientiane throughout the morning and although they threatened to dampen the event, preparations continued cheerfully. The road behind Wat Ong Teu was closed as we carefully erected a large white tent across the entire road. It definitely took on a bee hive appearance with the inclusion of flying bees, wonderful creations from the children and youth from the Peuan Mit center.
Inside and safe from the rain the Makphet staff worked on transforming the restaurant into a cozy bee hive. Traditional Lao ingredients such as eggplants in assorted colors and shapes, banana flowers and real grilled bee hives colored the room. Walls were decorated with colorful paintings and giant styrofoam bees (created by the extremely talented children from Peuan Mit )hung from the ceiling. A slideshow of the teams’ Lao trip was projected throughout the evening as surrounding banners displayed the theme of the night: Lao Futures, Lao Culture and Lao Food.
With plenty of crossed fingers and well wishes from our Phnom Penh headquarters the sun finally broke through the dark clouds and to our relief the capital stayed dry for the remainder of the day. The official launch began at 4pm. In true Lao style people slowly found their way to Makphet as Ketsone, the Country Program Director of Peuan Mit, welcomed the attendees before handing proceedings over to Mr. Khamkeng Keovongsy, the Deputy Director of the Social Welfare Department, Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare before our executive director, Sebastien , concluded by handing the first copy of the cookbook over to the representative of the ministry.
From 5pm onwards the restaurant really became a hive of activity! People lined up at the buffet for a true taste of Laos. Dishes included Madame Khambot’s Pork and Pumpkin Laap with Mint and the traditional ‘Awh Larm’, Luang Prabang Style Buffalo and Vegetable Stew Simmered with Pepperwood, all featured in the book From the kitchen blenders could be heard running at full speed as they struggled to meet the demands of our thirsty guests for the Makphet favorite Roselle Hibiscus Daiquiri.
The cookbook was very well received and at the end of the night we had sold over 60 copies – an incredible achievement! Everyone involved was buzzing with happiness at the outcome. We hope the buzz continues for a long time yet! Our grateful thanks go out to everyone involved in the making of the cookbook and of course to you for your wonderful support and encouragement.