How would a table to farm restaurant change our attitudes about food? Outstanding in the Field gathers diners to feast amidst the lands and hands that feed us
Who would think that having dinner with more than 100 people in a cow pasture could be so much fun? Now imagine the dinner on white linens, with sparkling crystal and gleaming china set down on a very very long table.
Outstanding in the Field is a restaurant without walls, a ritual feast on wheels. Started by Chef and Earth Artist Jim Denevan, every year since 1999 he and his team board a red and white 1953 Flexible school bus to chase down summer harvests like a musical band on a road tour… yet they are making bites instead of beats.
As a chef, Denevan was struck by the absence of any connection people have with those who produce their food (which is pretty much all of us). As an artist, he envisioned Outstanding in the Field as a way to re-connect diners to the land, and to honor the people whose good work brings nourishment to the table. Think Thanksgiving, where farmers, chefs, artisans and food lovers all join together to break bread and celebrate the harvest of wherever it is they are.
For each meal, Denevan and his crew collaborate with farmers and well-respected chefs from the area, working almost exclusively with local ingredients (sometimes sourced within inches of the table). After a tour of the site, diners dive into a four-course meal inspired by the surroundings. Each dish is served family style, and servers offer up detailed information about the local origin of every flavor.
After several hours of outstanding food and conversation, the feast winds down with a gorgeous sunset, a bounty of gratitude, and new appreciation for local food heritage. And when the last guest leaves, the school bus packs up its china and hits the road again… to give thanks on another farm or garden, mountain top or sea cave, island or ranch across America, until the November frosts drive the team back to their home in California.
To join an Outstanding in the Field feast, check out their website for an up to date travel schedule.