NewsMaking It In San Diego


San Diego chef expands farm-to-table dreams by acquiring 19-acre regenerative farm

Posted at 5:36 PM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 22:35:36-05

BONSALL, Cailf. (KGTV) — A dream has become a reality for San Diego Chef Lan Thai, who brings a unique “Food as Medicine” approach at her restaurant, Enclave, located in Scripps Ranch.

She recently acquired a 19-acre regenerative farm in Bonsall, where she can continue bringing her farm-to-table concept to San Diego.

“All the citrus right now are in season; this is what you should be eating to prevent colds,” said Thai as she showed our ABC 10News crew around her farm. “We live in the best environment in the whole country for farming, so it really doesn’t make sense why this doesn’t exist already.”

Thai strives to teach people about what she calls “source-ism” while creating meals that incorporate gut-healthy and anti-inflammation ingredients.

“No matter what kind of diet, lifestyle you’re a part of, we just kind of want you to take audit into where the food comes from. Purchasing this 19-acre farm is really going to push our FAM- Food as Medicine movement, getting people to audit their diets and nutrition and see where their food comes from,” she said. “We want people to understand how food plays a major role into their own health and for the health of our planet.”

Later this month, Thai is opening a second Enclave café in Torrey Hills, and in early March, she plans to open a third, larger restaurant location in University Town Center. Her goal is to supply all three locations with the food she grows at her Bonsall farm.

"We are shooting for 80 percent of all the food that’s grown here to source our restaurant,” she said. She also plans to collaborate with other restaurants to provide fresh ingredients.

Currently, the farm has more than 40 avocado trees, plenty of citrus trees, macadamia nut trees, pomegranates, permissions, herbs, and even edible flowers. Soon Thai hopes to bring in chickens that will provide her restaurants with eggs.

“We’ll be growing everything, lettuces, herbs, salads, vegetables,” she said. “Everything that our restaurant serves.”

Thai also wants to go beyond growing food for her restaurant at the farm. “We want to build cabins here for people to come stay and learn about farming and really get connected to the source of their food.”

She also plans to create a retreat-like area where people can host events and even weddings.

Getting this far hasn’t been easy, but Thai said an opportunity presented itself during the pandemic, giving her the chance to grow her business and love of farming.

“We received a government contract to feed the seniors everyday breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 14 months, and because of that, that helped source and fund this farm,” she explained.

After arriving in San Diego as a refugee at 6-months-old, Thai said she grew up on a farm, learning skills handed down by her parents.

“My parents were refugees, and my mom was pregnant with me, and we were in a Thailand refugee camp where I was born,” she said the family moved to San Diego shortly after. “I just want to share the things that I’ve learned from what my parents have learned and continue that ancestral wisdom.”

Thai is currently hiring for different positions on the farm and at her new restaurants.