Frequently asked questions
What is Atelier?
Atelier was created to promote world’s best pepper by showcasing its ‘terroir’; the set of all unique environmental factors and farming practices affecting the Kampot pepper culture
Atelier is a French-Khmer familial enterprise born during the renovation of a 1945 historical house on Kampot’s riverside. The brand identity pays homage to the Kampot region and the history of pepper production and cultivation in Cambodia.
Cambodia is a country where inestimable cultural and architectural heritage is at stake due to quick development. Preservation of the remaining elements of the Khmer history is a key to a bright future for Cambodia.
What are your core values?
We promote slowly matured products, and design rooted in local culture.
Atelier’s belief is that human actions have long term environmental consequences. It is the company’s duty to promote conscious tourism, fair trade economy and sustainable development. These values are a common ground for our employees, our partners and our customers.
What is the story behind the 1945 shophouse?
Atelier is located inside a 1945 heritage Chinese shophouse on the riverside of Kampot. In 2013 at the time it was acquired by the Meinnel family the house was totally rundown but its charm remained intact. They believed that the exterior of the house shall be respectfully preserved to be kept for collective memory. The architectural challenges resulting from that decision lead to Atelier’s artisan mindset. While bringing contemporary finishes and comfort, the architect revived traditional construction techniques to preserve the historical facade of the house. The house is, a manifest for preservation of old shop houses in Kampot.
Why your brand is named Atelier?
“Atelier” is the French for workshop, the place where craftsmanship works and finds their inspiration. This name pays homage to work behind the kampot pepper culture. Since all the work for the pepper production is made by hand these workers can be considered as craftsmen.
Our brand logo uses the front façade of the house because we think that it represents a heritage of the past and the skills of these ancient times. The house can be related to the pepper because it represents the uniqueness of one of the last preserved heritage structure in Kampot as the pepper culture and the “know-how” of heritage skills.
We want our properties to work like workshops in the constant research of improvements and discovery of new ways to work with the pepper.
Do you have your own plantation?
Atelier’s plantation is situated in the commune of Vat Ang approximately 10 km from Kampot. Our pepper was planted in November 2016. We chose to prioritize quality over quantity so we decided to restrain the size of our plantation to 1.5 ha. It is difficult to maintain organic standards with extensive agriculture. Moreover it is important to leave space for local farmers.
Aiming for bio-diversity. Atelier's plantation also hosts an organic fruit and vegetables garden. It will increase awareness by teaching the new khmer generations about organic agriculture. The visitors will be offered fresh fruit juices and cooking lessons using fresh products of the farm will complement. A botanical orchard will show visitors a large selection of exquisite local plants and share the vision driving our plantation.
What type of food do you propose?
Using the freshest local products, and as few imported ingredients as possible, our cuisine mixes the European bistro influence and Asian dishes.
Furthermore, Kampot pepper has 4 different colors offering lot of perspectives to explore. Matching the right dish with the right pepper is a culinary art. For example, red pepper matches very well red fruits and chocolate; a dessert that includes pepper is always surprising when you try it for the first time. The flower of salt is also completely different than just simple table salt and can really change the taste as well as the texture of a dish.
We are inviting chefs from other restaurants to share their vision of the Kampot Pepper and create their own signature menu for a limited time at Atelier bistro. We look for a dynamic way to feature our products and we create collaborate with other brands sharing similar values.
Why should we come to visit your house in Kampot?
Most of people just see salt and pepper as tableware and forget that if it is well used, it can simply change a basic dish in exquisite cuisine. Atelier’s products are made for consumers to understand the possibilities to use them.
This is why our Boutique is accompanied by a gourmet bistro where one can taste the pepper with paring dishes.
The credo is “heritage and creativity”.
Why Kampot Pepper is more expensive than another pepper?
Kampot Pepper is the only pepper in the world that received a Geographical Protected Indication and can only be produced in 6 districts of Kampot and Kep Provinces; it means that this pepper is a rare and unique product.
Moreover the red and white pepper are really difficult to harvest because they need to be harvested at the exact moment and also uses a lot of energy from the pepper vines to produce these ripe fruits. Keeping a lot of red pepper on a vine can be dangerous for a producer because of the animals wanting to eat it.
Kampot Pepper is also a fair trade product, which means that it is sold at a fair price for the farmers and that price doesn’t fluctuates with the market. It’s the only way to perpetuate the tradition and keep farmers interested in this crop that needs a lot of investment, in time, money and energy.
When customers buy Kampot pepper they also use far way less quantities than with other peppers, because of its high concentrate of piperine (the active principal of black pepper) and by using each color in the right way it really adapts to the dishes and can be used with any foods.
How can you recognize official Kampot Pepper from the others when you are buying it?
The pepper you can buy from us only comes from the Kampot Pepper Promotion Association (KPPA), a cooperative grouping all the farmers respecting the requirements of the Geographical Indication specifications book. The groupment helps them to find buyers for others markets than Cambodia and guarantee that they get a fair and fixed price for their crops.
That is why Kampot Pepper is a fair trade product.
There are different requirements for official Kampot Pepper packages that are required by the Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia and by the European Union such as:
-The official Kampot Pepper logo in color
-The different logo for Geographical indication (from Cambodia and EU)
-The Ecocert certification logo
-A tracking number that shows the color of the pepper, the year of production and the number of reseller and the number of bulk purchase. This tracking number allows you to know who is the producer of the pepper you use, even if he lives 12,000 kilometers away from you! (example: B17-C028-002)
-An expiration date (requirement of the EU but the pepper can be consumed long after this date)
Atelier is proud to respond to all these requirements and is an official reseller registered as the KPPA under the number C028, our company is also registered at the Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia under the name ATELIER KAMPOT 1945 CO., LTD.
Why buying official Kampot Pepper is not a senseless act?
By buying this product, you allow centuries of “know-how” that almost disappeared, to be recognized at their true values. It also helps Cambodian farmer to stay around their homeland and earn a decent wage for their crop. It creates employment in rural places where people often prefer to move to the capital city in search of a better life and salary but often end up working for underpaid job in factories.
Why should I buy Atelier’s pepper more than another brand ?
Here at Atelier our vision goes further than just pepper because by selling this pepper we try to show Cambodia to be proud to produce different products than his neighbors and that economic growth will follow. By the adjunction of standards of higher quality, products will penetrate others markets more easily and be more lucrative.
Producing cheaper products is always a short term way of thinking that we try to avoid.
Atelier is trying to be a leader in our community and show the way by sharing the knowledge and education to the people.
Are you a social enterprise?
We are a social enterprise, i.e., a private enterprise run along social lines, meaning we do not run the business solely for profit, but ensure workers are trained and work in a comfortable environment and are paid fairly for their work.
We are not a NGO as we do not want to rely on donations. We want to be self-reliant and self-sustaining. We believe it’s better to learn to fish than to be given a fish. Regular and constant handouts create a dependency mentality that is ultimately detrimental to Cambodian people. Many donations in Cambodia are actually motivated acts willing to attract favors in exchange.
We are an equal opportunity employer, and do not discriminate against gender, religion or ethnicity.