Pandaw announces culinary collaboration in Burma

Boutique River Cruise pioneer partners with Sanon Restaurant in Bagan, to launch training programme for teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds

Pioneering, boutique, river cruise company, Pandaw Expeditions, has teamed up with top Bagan restaurant ‘Sanon’ to support its in-house hospitality training programme, which educates teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds. Both known for their support of Burmese local communities, the companies are collaborating to help underprivileged teens train in fine dining and hospitality by offering Sanon interns a two-week rotation on-board Pandaw ships.

“At Pandaw, we are always on the look-out for talented individuals to provide a personalised service on board our ships,” said Pandaw Founder, Paul Strachan.

“We saw an opportunity to support Sanon owner, Richard Woolnough, in his quest to provide a new dimension to the hands-on training of his students whilst, at the same time, enhancing the culinary experience for guests on board our eight Burma-based ships. The interns will join us, on rotation, once they have received extensive training from Sanon in their preferred path, whether it’s as a cook or a waiter.  We look forward to welcoming the first interns and very much hope that one or two will have a future career with Pandaw when they graduate.”

Sanon serves Burmese food with a Western twist and is currently rated as TripAdvisor’s top restaurant in Bagan with five-star reviews.

"We are delighted with our new partnership with Pandaw and we are grateful beyond words to Paul, Roser, Stuart, Wah Wah and all of the Pandaw Team for their support and for making it happen,” said Sanon owner Richard Woolnough.

“They have gone above and beyond the proverbial call to make the whole process easy and welcoming for our young people. It is of huge benefit to us to be able to offer our students the opportunity to gain invaluable work experience aboard Pandaw’s vessels. Not only will it equip them with a host of new skills, it will add immeasurably to their general confidence and life experience. We look forward to seeing the first of our graduates exchange their Sanon maroon uniforms for Pandaw blue."

A chance meeting in a local Bagan bar led to Richard taking on Sanon last April. Supported by several organisations in Burma, as well as Friends International Organisation in Cambodia, Richard and the Sanon team have carefully recruited eighteen students who will spend a year learning either Front of House, bar work or kitchen skills, as well as ten hours of English lessons every week.

Richard has drawn on his background training young cadets in the Royal Military Police, his many years in cooking and hospitality in the UK and subsequent career change to professional actor to inspire and guide these students to gain a qualification. The students fully embrace this opportunity and Richard hopes to double his intake at Sanon by the end of the year.

The initiative to collaborate with Pandaw has inspired Richard to source partnerships with other commercial companies which can offer the right supportive and professional environment for Sanon students. Pandaw was the ideal fit with its great ethos of team work and developing the Pandaw Family.

Pandaw is the longest running river cruise company in Southeast Asia, offering adventure and discovery on board its 16 luxurious small ships. Guests enjoy expeditions along the Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia, the Red River and Halong Bay in Northern Vietnam, the Upper Mekong through Laos and Thailand to China and the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers in Burma, as well as the coastal region of Burma with the Mergui Archipelago.

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