WHEN Gino Vasami decided to add value to the food he produces on his Ceredigion farm he set about building a restaurant with his own hands, brick by brick.

He converted a former milking parlour at Rhydgoch Farm and within three years La Calabria opened for business on the outskirts of Ffostrasol, near Llandysul.

One of the specialities that draws customers from far and wide is the homemade ice cream served up by the Vasami family, using milk from the herd they run in partnership with Tony and Arlene Hack at nearby Glasfryn Farm.

All of the meat and dairy products produced on the farm are used in the restaurant; in the summer the family grow herbs and vegetables, including chilli peppers and artichokes, too.

Gino set up La Calabria for his son, Tony, who had been working at hotels in London. Although Tony worked on the farm when he first arrived home from London, catering was his real passion.

“I could tell that farming was not really in his heart so I asked him what he wanted to do and he really wanted his own restaurant,”

Gino recalled.

They used money from the sale of a farm to establish the restaurant and it is nowcelebrating its fifth anniversary.

Gino was four years old when he came to live in Ceredigion and had to return to Italy for his military service. It was during this time that he learnt how restaurants were being run in Calabria, and this is how the restaurant is run in west Wales.

“The way things grow in Calabria, it is with sun; you can taste it, you can smell it. The food is just great. I wanted to bring this passion and the flavours of Italy to Wales for a long time,” said Gino.

“The restaurant is going from strength to strength, but if it weren’t for the local people here in Wales we would not be able to keep the place going. Their support since we opened the restaurant has just been fantastic.”

His wife, Grace, is the driving force in the kitchen.

“The sauce is the most important thing when it comes to cooking Italian food,” added Gino.

“My mum did the sauce the old-fashioned way and she taught my wife. And this is how Grace still cooks in the restaurant.”