Imagine dining under the stars with 100 people, savoring gourmet food, harvested from the farm and transformed by chefs, while seated at a 80-foot table in a field surrounded by wildflowers or flourishing beets and Swiss chard. This roaming gustatory experience started with three dinners in 1999 and blossomed into weekly dinners throughout the summer and fall. In 2004, founder Jim Denevan bought a bus and began his migration across the country in search of bucolic farm, sea coast, and winery settings to host his Outstanding in the Field dinners, with the goal of reconnecting people to the land and where their food originates, along with paying homage to the local farmers and artisans who produce it.
After creating several of these culinary events where he’d turn a patch of dirt into a white table-clothed feast, Denevan decided to bring in local chefs to assist with the cooking. But the farm remained the focus of the events. “We had the idea from the beginning, that the farmer should be the star and the chef should be of secondary importance,” explains Denevan. A radical change from our cult of celebrity chefs indeed.
Fresh food also takes the spotlight─think gazpacho made from newly plucked tomatoes, duck confit with cherry cinnamon reduction, followed by a talk from the woman who lovingly raised the ducks. From an Alaskan farm to an urban garden in Manhattan to a sea cove on Catalina Island, each unique dinner feels like a work of art and celebrates the fruits of the earth, allowing diners to experience the soul of the farm or natural setting.
These incredible feasts sell out quickly so make sure to check the schedule and book early, so you don’t miss your chance to taste the terroir and deep flavors of food plucked fresh from the earth while dining with a cast of characters in these “restaurants without walls.”