The cuisine, Italy, Cambodia and Kampot

With his name, Ezio Giannini cannot hide his Italian roots. He grew up in the region of Tuscany between Florence, Siena and the historic city of Perugia, and discovered his future at the age of 14: cooking.

After several jobs in the restaurant business he did from his teenage years, he met a chef who was to be his mentor and friend: Mr. Walter Redaelli. For more than 8 years, Ezio has learned within his team in the restaurant "Locanda dell’ Amorosa ". He started here to learn and sublimate Italian cuisine in this magnificent restaurant, a former 18th century stable, recognized today by the Michelin guide.

Quickly, the cooker acquires the experience and the confidence to live his own adventure, and he lets come the idea of opening and running his own restaurant. After several trips and experiences in Europe, Ezio decided in 2009 to leave the hills of Tuscany and settle near the edge of the Gulf of Thailand, in Sihanoukville. Then he opened the doors of his first restaurant in Cambodia: the Martini Beach Bar Restaurant. Guests could see an amazing sunset on the beach while Khmer, Western, and of course, amazing Italian cuisine was served.

In 2018, after 9 years of service in this warm place that welcomed up to 160 guests per service, Ezio and his partner unfortunately had to close their establishment after a major transformation of the city.

Very recently, in April 2020, he decided to relaunch his passion with the opening of a new restaurant, at the entrance of Kep. The fans of his cuisine didn’t left him and travel more than 100km to come to Kep and see him. The "beach" is no longer around, neither in the name nor in the place, but whatever: The Martini Bar Restaurant has indeed returned to the landscape of the best Italian restaurants of the Kampot and Kep region!

Ezio and La Plantation, a story of Kampot pepper

The relationship between Ezio and La Plantation began start a bit by chance, on the white sand beaches of Sihanoukville. There Ezio met Marie Delassus, who was responsible of sales at La Plantation. Very quickly the topics converge on peppers, and especially the famous local Kampot Pepper, which finally will seal a relationship that continues today. Indeed, according to the words of this Italian cooker, pepper is present in 99% of his cuisine. In his menu, we can taste it from starters to desserts and always in a very subtle way. The spice is part of Italian cuisine as Ezio says, which is and should remain "simple" to earn its fame.

To the question: why did you choose Kampot peppers from La Plantation? The chef replies that it is first and foremost the quality of the Plantation's products that differentiates them from other producers: “This is what guided my career in the restaurant business: I prefer that a customer searches in his plate, with a piece of bread, the last drops of a very good extra virgin olive oil, rather than soaking a dish in a lot of oil, but with a lower quality.” It is the same with pepper, you have to prefer the qualitative rather than the quantitative.

In his restaurant in Kep, the 34-seat space is never really empty, even in this COVID period at the end of 2020. We can see on the tables arriving carpaccios of tuna with Green Dehydrated Kampot Pepper, Tagliatelles of asparagus and ricotta with Black Kampot Pepper or, more surprisingly, panna cotta with Long Pepper! A real delicious culinary experience.

A final word from the chef, for home cooks: “Use top quality peppers, and you will never be disappointed! And if you ask which pepper you should start with, I suggest the Red Kampot Pepper, it's my favorite!”