Confluences has for a few months been committed to organising a Cambodian pavilion for the next exhibition aimed at the prestigious catering and hospitality industry event, SIRHA, which will be held in Lyon, France from the 26th to 30th January 2019. Two members of the Confluences team, Arnaud Clément and Pauline Taupin, are working on the SIRHA project as project managers and we caught up with them to tell us more.
Hello Pauline and Arnaud, can you introduce yourselves?
Arnaud: I will begin with myself, because Pauline is my replacement for this project. I am 24 years old, and I have just spent one year in Cambodia as a student of Entrepreneurship and Masters in Project Management at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP). While studying in the evenings, I completed an 8-month internship within Confluences Consulting, and the main project was to set up a Cambodian pavilion at the prestigious SIRHA exhibition which will be held in Lyon in January 2019.
Pauline: I am 21 years old and I am student at the emlyon business school and I am in my 1st year of studies. I came to Cambodia three months ago and I am also an intern with Confluences Consulting. SIRHA is one of the biggest projects I have to manage.
Could you tell us more details about this project?
Pauline: SIRHA is one of the most esteemed gastronomic exhibitions in the world and it will take place in Lyon, as it does every two years, alternating with Geneva. In addition, it features overseas in destinations such as in Dubai, Istanbul, the Middle East, and in Mexico for the American market.
Our ambition is to set up the first Cambodian pavilion for SIRHA in Lyon. We will bring over the best Cambodian products, and work with a specific brand for each product. We want to set up an attractive pavilion, and really impress with its aesthetic design. The idea is also to use the pavilion to cook and offer culinary tastings. In addition, we hope to organize the Cambodian pavilion at other SIRHA events, so that Cambodian products will obtain recognition on the global market.
Arnaud: We also need to point out that, in parallel to SIRHA taking place, a competition, “BOCUSE D’OR”, will bring together the best chefs in the world. This year, it is not possible for a Cambodian team to compete officially, we should have registered earlier and qualified in other Asian competitions, as our Vietnamese counterparts have done. We hope that one or two Cambodian chefs, especially via the Escoffier’s network, will attend this competition as observers, and that a Cambodian team will be created for future editions of this culinary competition.
Finally, the city of Lyon will soon open a Cité de la Gastronomie. One of the aims in participating at SIRHA exhibitions is to acquire visibility, and at a later stage, to be able to integrate into this museum, dedicated to the culinary arts.
What is the role of Confluences Consulting?
Pauline: Confluences is the spearhead of this project. In fact, we tried to launch it at the previous edition but we didn’t have enough time to complete the assignment. This time, we started earlier and we have already secured the support of important Cambodian institutions, such as the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism and The Royal Embassy of Cambodia in France. We are now partnering with the French-Cambodian Chamber of Commerce in managing this initiative. The pavilion is one aspect of this project, but another goal is to take a Cambodian ministerial delegation to Lyon and to further develop the relationship between Lyon and Cambodia.
Arnaud: It is essential to add, that a majority of the Confluences team comes from Lyon. I am from Lyon as well and Pauline studies there. That is why we have taken this project to heart, especially as there is a already great Cambodian community in Lyon.
Confluences was created as a hub to enable business projects to grow. Although not all of our customers are French, they are still our main business partners. Until now, we have assisted foreign companies, French companies, to enter the Cambodian market. This project is thus the first one to act in the opposite direction, supporting Cambodian companies enter the French market.
To sum up, how is the project progressing?
Arnaud: We have already secured some exhibitors, such as pepper and coffee brands. We are still in talks with many other potential exhibitors: rice of course, but also salt, cashew nuts and vanilla. We would like to display a pavilion which reflects Cambodian agricultural products.
Pauline: We are in discussions with a potential partner as well, for the design of the pavilion and the artistic tableware. It should be confirmed very soon. We hope that through this partnership we will benefit from a singular pavilion, settled around a central table that will enable us to organise for tasting the different Cambodian products.
Finally, we are engaged in discussions with several sponsors. This project will not be profitable for Confluences but it is important to guarantee a successful execution of the Cambodian exhibition.
What are the next steps?
Pauline: Discussions are ongoing with our partners, be it exhibitors, sponsors, but also governmental institutions. We are still contacting potential exhibitors to join us at the event. We have confirmed our participation to SIRHA and we will soon organise official and institutional visits for the Cambodian delegation.
This project is very inspiring, we invite you to follow it on our Facebook page: