When Topgolf Megacity is mentioned, people first think of a place for playing golf, a sports bar where people can watch their favourite sports and delicious food and drinks. They are not wrong to think so, but Topgolf Megacity has a little-known secret.
Chomp Magazine went to Topgolf Megacity to dig deep into this secret. While waiting at the table, Assistant Food and Beverage Manager, Pitchayapong "Tommy" Joonklang, offered us some signatures.
One of the servers placed a basket of freshly made Angry Chicken Waffle, a Nashville-styled crispy fried chicken on a waffle with spicy honey sauce on the side, a hot skillet pan of Mac 'N Cheese, and a huge glass of Bloody Mary in front of us and they looked amazing.
We took the opportunity to indulge ourselves with the delectables until Daniel Bucher, Executive Chef & Food Sustainability Manager, came and greeted us before taking us to a world customers don't get to see.
Daniel has worked in Thailand for twelve years in high-profile companies and organisations specialising in food and sustainability. He is responsible for setting up the kitchen system, sustainability roadmap, and initiatives at Topgolf Megacity.
While many venues in Thailand green-wash themselves, Topgolf Megacity practices sustainability without making a fuss.
"We don't aggressively promote being sustainable.” Daniel said, “Personally, I don't think it should be a marketing point. Any forward-thinking company discussing more sustainable operations in 2023 has clearly missed the train. I also don't believe our guests come here because we are more sustainable. We are a place to have fun and to enjoy great food and drinks."
Chomp Magazine wondered what kind of solution and system Topgolf has implemented. "We started with a sustainability roadmap, focusing on five pillars; Food & Beverage, Resource Efficiency, People, Community, and Procurement." He replied. "Let me share some of our initiatives. We work closely with James Nobel from Ori9in Gourmet Farm in Chiang Mai, who grows high-quality organic tomatoes for us."
Daniel also told Chomp Magazine that Topgolf Megacity rented a plot on James' farm to specifically grow Thomas Tomato which is perfect for making burgers. The Thomas tomato has an ideal size. They don't get mushy and have some bite and nice acidity. He also admitted that this process was more expensive than buying tomatoes from a supermarket if comparing kilo-per-kilo. "Sure, the kilo price of these tomatoes ends up higher than a regular supermarket tomato. However, once we factor in consistency, taste and size and our ability to control food waste along the supply chain, it comes out a little cheaper." He added.
"It costs less because if we purchase tomatoes from the supermarket, there is no guarantee that all the tomatoes are the same size." He said, "For a great burger, the size of tomato slices makes a difference. Small tomatoes don’t give a good balance, and the mouthfeel and bite. Working directly with James, I can tell him to pick the perfect-sized tomatoes and leave the smaller ones to grow into the size I want. This way, we always have the quality we are looking for."
To reduce plastic waste, Topgolf Megacity has cut plastic waste at the source. Plastic bottles are not purchased for the entertainment centre. Instead, other solutions have been found. Drinking water is bottled on-site in glass bottles and filtered in a NORDAQ drinking water system. Soft drinks are delivered through Thailand's first full-scale post-mix solution. No bottles are needed.The beer solution is even more impressive. The venue features a 34-tap draft beer system on three floors. All beers are served fresh from the tap.
“We worked on all these ideas independently. Only when we started operating the venue did it become clear to me just how much all of this has contributed to reducing waste. Thanks to our multiway beverage solutions, it is amazing how little waste we generate.”
"Our plates and bowls were made out of melamine which I wasn't very happy about at first because of the look and the feel," Daniel told us. " But we wanted something that doesn't break, and is lightweight, so melamine is the only option. I didn't want to use pure melamine. I wanted to put something organic or a recycled waste material to reduce the percentage of melamine. "We experimented with different materials and came up with the idea to use a waste product from Raitong Organics - our rice supplier. We ended up adding 15% of rice husk biochar into our plates which not only reduced the amount of total plastic but also added the beautiful, organic look to our plates."
The food menu here also plays a crucial role in sustainability. It offers guests a variety of vegetarian food without being in-your-face like most restaurants do, where they have a special section for vegetarian options. "When you have a special section for vegetarians, people who aren't vegetarians always skip it.
"There is a lot of talk about vegetarianism as a solution to climate change. While a lot can be said about that, we can all agree that eating less meat is a necessity at this point. Many vegetarian options are beloved and tasty dishes, but sometimes guests don't order them if they are marked as vegetarian.
Daniel said with a cheeky smile: "We sneaked many vegetarian options on the menu without being preachy about it. This way, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike can order and enjoy these."
Chop Magazine wonders what happens to the food if the customers don't finish the whole plate. Daniel told us, "Our staff have a cart with a section to separate food waste, used paper napkins, plastic waste, dishes and bowls, and utensils and take them to their proper stations. There are bins everywhere, and we always separate our waste. Plastic waste will go to the recycling plant to be turned into plastic bags. For food waste, we have storage where we put all of our food waste before sending it to composting."
The storage is very clean and doesn't smell. In fact, the kitchen and sewage don't smell at all. Daniel had on-demand aqueous ozone solutions established in the back end. This technology is a 3-in-1 cleaning, sanitising, and deodorising solution by ozone.
Ozone has a higher density than the air we breathe, which makes it ideal for air and water disinfection. In its gaseous or aqueous form, ozone eliminates bacteria, viruses, mould, fungus, algae, and other contaminants by destroying the cell membrane and leaving no disinfection byproducts. It is safe and reverts to oxygen or water, utterly harmless to the environment and marine life.
Not only Topgolf Megacity has this machine established in every corner of the back end, but also a SMARTPOWER dishwashing solution that efficiently cleans plates and utensils using less water. The SMARTPOWER dishwashing detergent is a non-corrosive and 99.7% phosphate-free high-concentrate detergent that comes in a block. It's easy to rinse. The SMARTPOWER dishwashing machine is a computer that calculates and pumps the right amount of detergent from the block for the staff to use.
"With these machines, we can also save money from buying chemical cleaning products and storage spaces, and they reduce packaging waste," Daniel told us.
Now the secret is not a secret anymore that Topgolf Megacity is a devoted venue to supporting and practising sustainability.
Chomp Magazine was honoured. We enjoyed talking with Daniel Bucher and the experience we had from the tour. We hope to interview more establishments with the same principle to help raise awareness.