ORLANDO, Fla. – Traditional cuisine is very important to Jess and Elizabeth Calvo, the owners of Thai Farm Kitchen.
The couple is offering a menu of traditional Thai cuisine which they said is hard to come by, even in Thailand.
“Elizabeth, my wife, she the chef and she inherited (these) very old traditional (recipes) from her ancestors — her great grandmother, from her grandmother and from her mother as well, " Jess Calvo said. “So this kind of cuisine is it’s a very authentic Thai dish(es) and most of them (no) longer exist in any ordinary cuisines in Thailand anymore. It’s a very special one.”
The pair opened their first restaurant while they were still living in Thailand.
“In the beginning, both of us were corporate employees and we were in the executive level,” Jess Calvo said. “But then after doing it for a while, we find that we ask ourselves, ‘What is going to be our life five years from now? Ten years from now?’ And then we say to ourselves, ‘We want to early retire by doing something that we are passionate about.’”
Jess Calvo said his wife was always cooking and he had an interest in agriculture. The two combined their passions to start their first restaurant.
“The reason our restaurant is named Thai Farm Kitchen is because, originally, we planted almost every single ingredient and we serve it fresh to the table,” Jess Calvo said.
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The Calvos said they no longer plant every vegetable they serve but do still grow some important items. The rest comes from local farmers, according to Jess Calvo.
The couple then brought their business to New York City, where they quickly received recognition from the media there, including the New York Times.
They still maintain their original location in Brooklyn but have now opened their second U.S. location in Orlando’s College Park neighborhood. The Calvos said the pandemic showed them it was important to diversify their locations.
“We wanted to start another business and we said, ‘You know what? We need to spread the risk. We cannot put all eggs in one basket,’” Jess Calvo said. “So we said, ‘We better start another business somewhere else which is out of New York.’ If something happened (in) New York, we have another one.”
The couple admitted that the weather in Florida was part of the attraction as the harsh winters in New York were far from what the Calvos were used to.
“First time in my life I saw snow was four years ago,” Jess Calvo said.
Though they are maintaining their business in New York, the couple is now living in Florida full time and plan to move into Orlando in the near future.
In the latest episode of Florida Foodie, the pair talk about what makes their dishes so special. They also talk about Elizabeth Calvo’s international recognition as a chef and some of the special items guests can expect at their Orlando restaurant.
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Florida Foodie is a bi-weekly podcast from WKMG and Graham Media that takes a closer look at what we eat, how we eat it and the impact that has on us here in Florida and for everyone, everywhere. Find new episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you download your favorite podcasts.