Organic farming, the secret sauce in the success of Moom Talay and Toscana
The previous edition of the Business Supplement reported on the successful joint restaurants Moom Talay and Toscana, owned and operated by Italian expatriate Luca Marchetti and his Thai wife. Both eateries are located on Beach Road, alongside the Tropicana Hotel in central Pattaya.
As previously mentioned, Luca and his wife run the only large-scale organic farming business in Pattaya. In that previous issue the Supplement covered the vegetable farming operation. In this issue we will look at the animal farm.
Situated in Huay Yai, just down the road from the newly-constructed Huay Yai Villas, the animal farm spreads over 10,000 square metres and employs around eight staff to feed and care for a wide variety of creatures, from pigs, goats and rabbits to chickens, ducks and geese.
The central policy Luca and his staff employ on the farm is they let nature take its course. As Luca says, “We do not use antibiotics for the animals. If they die, they die.”
There are 14 incubators which are capable of housing around 100,000 chicken, duck and quail eggs per day. Of these, around 30,000, the strongest, will survive and provide the basis for the next generations of fowl.
The farm is home to three different breeds of ducks, including Mallard and Muscovy, and geese. The Muscovy duck says Luca has a “dark meat, which is beautiful to eat.” He separates the females from the males in order to ramp up the number of eggs the ducks will lay. Luca uses the eggs for making the ice-cream and pasta sold in Toscana and Moom Talay. “I have a machine which enables me to pasteurize 60 kilograms of eggs at a time,” stated Luca.
Apart from the ducks, geese, and a variety of chickens (Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, as well as Australian and German breeds) the farm also has braces of turkeys, pigeons, guinea fowl and rabbits, the latter sourced from New Zealand.
There are 14 male rabbits which are mated to the 169 females. Luca keeps a careful record of the breeding so he can improve the strain and avoid inter-breeding. Each litter usually consists of only six or seven babies and they will stay for up to 40 days with the mother. Each female will have a two and a half month break between litters. Rabbit, Luca says, provides “fantastic meat, no fat, high in protein and it’s easy to digest.”
Luca is aiming to breed up to 600 pigs a year and recently began expanding the number of pens required to fulfill that aim. The pigs, of course, provide the fresh pork and bacon sold in both Toscana and Moom Talay.
Every morning the female goats are milked, with the product used to make such things as the ricotta cheese sold in Toscana.
The rainy season provides the biggest danger to the chickens and other fowl on the farm, with pythons and cobras being found at different times. “We catch the pythons and take them 20 or 30 kilometres away and let them go,” said Luca.
While Luca admitted it would be cheaper to buy everything he and his wife sell in Moom Talay and Toscana from suppliers, he says, “For me this is a hobby…How could I promote my food in my restaurant if I didn’t know where it came from?”
A fair question, and one that of all restaurateurs in Pattaya and elsewhere, arguably only Luca Marchetti could answer.