LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – It’s a staple of downtown Lafayette and is best known for its fine Italian dishes.
La Scala opened back in 2000, and it is currently one of the oldest fine dining restaurants in downtown Lafayette.
While you may have eaten there a time or two, you may be surprised by what the owners call the ‘backbone’ of their restaurant.
News 18 This Morning visited owners Paco and Kirsten Serrano’s organic farm in Tippecanoe County, where they’ve turned a passion of gardening into something for all to taste
It’s safe to say Paco is the chef in the family and Kirsten has the green thumb in the household.
“This is bright light swiss chard,” Kirsten said as she walked through her garden. “It’s a beautiful green that grows throughout the summer that we’re able to use in soups.”
When the couple opened La Scala, they knew they wanted to take a simple dream to a new level.
“Fourteen years ago we took over a tiny restaurant and only had 10 tables,” Kirsten explained. “We kept working and working.”
Through the hard work, their journey continued. In 2006, they moved to a farm in Tippecanoe County.
“At that time our daughter was three,” she explained. “We had just moved to the country and our daughter started to have some food sensitivity issues.”
So, that’s when the Serranos decided they would experiment and start growing most of their own food for the family.
“In that process, it ignited a fire within me and him, too,” Kirsten said. “We got very excited about what you can do when you grow your own.”
Since then, they’ve brought their garden to the kitchen at the restaurant.
“I grow a lot of cheery tomatoes for the restaurant, and then I also grow quite a few big slicing tomatoes for our pastas so they have those fresh, pretty colors of tomatoes on the plate,” Kirsten explained. “I grow garlic and grow onions. I even grow parsley for us.”
She joked when she explained the amount of parsley she grows to keep up with the restaurant.
“He uses a lot of parsley,” Kirsten said. “I’d probably have to plant half the farm with parsley to keep up with him. I also finally figured out that 25 basil plants is about the right amount, so that he can get three to four pounds of basil a week.”
The couple credits the success of the restaurant to the quality of food they serve whether it’s from their garden, or another local farm.
“When we grow it ourselves, not only have we put the physical labor and love it takes to take it to seed to plate, but we know everything about the quality of it,” Kirsten said. “There are no sprays involved. Everything is done organically in very healthy soil under very healthy conditions.”
Main Street Wine and Cheese owner, Ivan Brumbaugh, also tries to serve as much locally grown food in his restaurant, too.
“We’re able to support the local market and support the downtown,” Brumbaugh explained. “Those people, that’s the way they make their living. They grow fresh vegetables for all of us.”
“I would do this anyway,” Kirsten said. “We might as well enhance the business as we go. Maybe I wouldn’t grow on this scale, but I would be growing anyway. It’s what I love to do!”