You’ve heard of the farm-to-table movement, but have you ever had dinner right on the farm, where your food is sourced? Outstanding in the Field is a national roving dinner adventure that honors the people — both farmers and chefs — who bring food to the table.
It started in 1998 with a series of “farmer dinners” at Gabriella Cafe in Santa Cruz, CA owned by chef/artist Jim Denevan. He invited several of the restaurant’s regular producers to dinner and featured dishes where the ingredients came straight from their farm. When the first farmer stood and addressed the guests with “this came from my farm,” the diners eagerly listened to the stories and had greater appreciation for their food. Denevan’s brother Bill was one of those farmers, and took the dinners to the next level by having it set on a long table right on the farm.
Every dinner is different, but if you go to one of these events you are given a tour of the farm, followed by a five-course meal paired with wine. The ingredients are all local — sometimes sourced within inches of your table — and prepared by a local chef. The menu is unique, so it’s not likely you’ll have this same meal ever again, and you have the opportunity to sit with the farmers who raised the food. The long table in an open field provides a gorgeous setting for dinner, and there’s always a plan B in case of rain.
This past weekend, there was a dinner at Ma’o Organic Farms featuring Ed Kenney from town, and one at Kualoa Ranch featuring Mark Noguchi of the Pili Group. I don’t know how the other dinner was, but ours at Kualoa — where “Jurassic Park” was filmed — was in a spectacular setting framed by mountains. Our chefs included Chris Okuhara of Miso and Ale and Lee Anne Wong of Top Chef fame. Dave Power from The Feral Pig on Kauai and Dave Newman of Pint & Jigger created the featured cocktails for the evening.
Don’t angst about what to wear as there was a wide range of attire at this dinner. They do recommend you wear good shoes, since it is a dirt field and there is uneven ground, gravel, and sometimes mud puddles.
Outstanding in the Field
These were just some of my photos from the evening. To see the entire collection, click here.
Mahalo to Edible Hawaiian Islands magazine for inviting me to this memorable and beautiful dinner. If you would like to participate in the next one, there is one on Maui tomorrow, February 5, at Kupa’a Organic Farms featuring chef Ravi Kapur. Click here for information and reservations. On Saturday, February 8, the dinner is on Hawaii Island at the Big Island Abalone Farm featuring chef Edwin Goto. Click here for information and reservations.
If you miss these dinners, keep checking the website, as they will probably come back next year.