When the Business Supplement first started informing readers about the Toscana Italian and Moom Talay Thai restaurants, located side-by-side on Beach Road in central Pattaya, we initially took some time out to cover the two organic farms operated by Luca Marchetti and his Thai wife.
What makes Toscana and Moom Talay stand out from their competitors in terms of food is simply that the vast bulk of the produce which is carried through the doors of these two places comes from their two almost pristine farms in the eastern reaches of Pattaya.
The first of the farms sits in the shadows of the noted Khao Din temple, between the Charknok and Mabrachan reservoirs, and is solely devoted to growing the vast quantity of vegetables required by Toscana and Moom Talay.
Covering an area of around 5,000 square metres, and with a house on the site, it has two full-time Thai staff employed to plant, water and generally cultivate the vast rows of spinach, onions, celery, mustard, parsley, rocket, beans and other vegetables which make it onto the plates and into the soups in Moom Talay and Toscana.
Luca Marchetti grew up on a farm in the mountains to the north of Tuscany, so he knows what it takes to run a rustic operation. For example, after much experimentation, Luca found the only place on the farm where rosemary would grow.
Much of the produce, especially the tomato plants, which take two to three months to grow to maturity, are protected from the worst of the elements by strong UV-plastic covering.
The vegetable patches are rotated on a regular basis and a brace of free-range chickens put added manure into the soil, to help with regeneration of precious minerals.
Luca refuses to use any chemicals on his produce, preferring nature and nurture to provide the necessary abundance to keep the restaurant tables well stocked.
The organic animal farm is situated in Huay Yai and spreads over 10,000 square metres, employing around eight staff to feed and care for a wide variety of creatures, from pigs, goats and rabbits to chickens, ducks and geese and, now, a clutch of Angus-Brahman cows.
Luca’s central policy on the farm is to let nature take its course. As Luca says, “We do not use antibiotics for the animals. If they die, they die.”
One major change in recent times has been to raise the cages for the chickens and fowl off the ground. This lets the manure filter through the flooring and fall to the ground, leaving the cages cleaner and has, not surprisingly, led to a marked reduction in fatalities.
The number of pigs stocked by the farm has increased markedly over the last 18 months or so. The pigeons have been moved to a new location and in their place a whole new set of pig pens have sprung up and include South African ‘Boer’ pigs, which Luca says provide good meat. All up, Luca has around 500 pigs and wild boars, 500 sheep and 500 goats. Luca considers goat meat more filling and tasty than lamb.
There are 14 incubators and from these Luca is able to produce all the daily requirements for his restaurants for chicken, duck and quail eggs. There are also plenty of eggs left over to provide the basis for the next generations of fowl on the farm.
The farm is home to a variety of ducks, including Mallard and Muscovy, and geese as well as an ever-wider variety of chickens than previously. Apart from the Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, Australorp (from Australia) and breeds from Germany and Russia, Luca recently added a Czech strain.
As Luca stated when we first toured his farms, “How could I promote my food in my restaurant if I didn’t know where it came from?”
While it involves an enormous amount of time and effort, the results are evident in the high esteem accruing to both Toscana and Moom Talay.