March 12, 2010 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Like a restaurant without walls, Outstanding in the Field is a moveable feast in the truest sense–a roving outdoor dining experience whose mission is “to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.” Since 1999, they have set up tables in such locations as urban gardens and farms, sea caves, and ranches, and once in awhile indoors in a greenhouse or refurbished barn. At a long table set in a scenic spot, guests indulge in a five course, farm-style dinner accompanied by a wine paired with each course. Diners are joined at the table by the farmer, food producers, a winemaker, and other local artisans associated with the meal, after which they enjoy a leisurely tour of the grounds.
In 2009, they held 54 events throughout the United States and Canada, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, and Portland, Oregon. This year marks their seventh year touring the country in their vintage red and white 1953 bus, bringing together local farmers and food artisans, chefs and winemakers.
Chef Jim Denevan began staging Outstanding in the Field dinners at organic farms around his hometown of Santa Cruz, California back in 1999 with the idea of dining “at the source on the very soil that nourished the bounty on the plate, in the company of the farmers who cultivated it.” Word soon spread and many of the area’s local chefs joined them in their al fresco kitchens, including Traci Des Jardins of Jardinière, Craig Stoll of Delfina, Charles Phan of the Slanted Door, and David Kinch of Manresa.
Here’s a preview of upcoming 2010 urban feasts:
City Farm, Chicago
Queen’s Farm, New York
Wattles Farm, Los Angeles, photo from Life in Balance
Seats at the table for the 2010 farm dinner season will be available for purchase online on the first day of Spring, March 20th.