Monday, December 28, 2009

Get to Know

As 2010 season planning begins and we look back on our guests experiences over the years we are pleased to notice that more and more folks consider traveling to visit our farm table a great opportunity to get to know and understand a place they are unfamiliar with. Typically wherever we set the table, 25 to 40 percent of those attending are from outside the area, arriving from other states, provinces and countries. At an Outstanding in the Field event, diners are sure to mingle with both guests coming from a distance and local people who are steeped in the identity of a particular place; guests from nearby, farmers, winemakers, fishermen and cheese makers. It is great to see that the experience of a farm dinner results in a rapid familiarity and connection for travelers.

Planning for 2010: North America and a Euro Tour

After a holiday rest the Outstanding in the Field team are deeply involved in planning for the new season. This year we head out on our seventh terrestrial voyage across North America with tables, chairs and a trunk full of mismatched plates in tow, visiting both new and familiar friends. With our Farm dinner mission continuing to thrive we've decided to go even further afield. An Outstanding team of scouts, Jim Denevan, Katy Oursler and Dave Sanford are now preparing to leave for Europe with a full schedule of farm visits and chef meetings!

Jim Denevan

Katy Oursler

Dave Sanford

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Seasons End

We finished the 2009 farm dinner season with our traditional foraging feast in the warm barn at Pie Ranch in San Mateo County, California. Forager Freddy led us on a long forest hike, regaling the guests with tales of the woods and working up everyone's appetite. The Dec 6th event included many Outstanding guests that had attended events earlier in the season. It was great to catch up and reminisce about previous dinners. We've barely caught our breath after 58 dinner events across North America, as we begin exciting plans for 2010.

Here are some pictures from events of the latter part of the season.

Hickory Nut Gap Farm, Fairview, NC

Wattles Farm, Los Angeles, CA

Arugula's Star Farm, Columbia, TN

Ayrshire Farm, Upperville, VA

Love is Love Farm, Douglasville, GA

Aquidneck Farm, Portsmouth, RI

Animal Farm, Cat Spring, TX

EECO Farm, East Hampton, NY

Jolie Vue Farm, Brenham, TX

Dingo Farms, Bradford, Ontario, Canada

Cherry Grove Farm, Lawrenceville, NJ

Eckerton Hill Farm, Kutztown, PA

Talus Wind Ranch, Galisteo, NM

Friday, September 25, 2009

Good to go

We've been cruising along on the new old bus, a 1963 GMC. Only 1 minor breakdown this season. Everyone is amazed and happy to cross the country without having to worry about breakdowns. We can even dart across slow moving streams.

Arugula's Star Farm, Columbia, TN

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The 2009 OITF Crew

Pictured below are the folks that signed on for the whole tour. They're the ones that make it happen. Besides the full-timers, two other great contributors this season were Outstanding tour veterans Katy Oursler and Aubrey Schatz, who joined us for "half tours". Also thanks to Florike Martens, our European intern, and teen interns Brighton Denevan and Joya Cazel who were there right when we needed them.

Jeremy Fenske and Elaine Skinner
Together since forever, sometimes called Jerlaine or Eleremy
J & E hail from food crazy Chi Town
Midwest work ethic keeps the rest of us movin'

Sally Summerson
Cute as her name, southern belle from Georgia
With culinary bona fides
Journalist, milk drinker

Leah Scafe
Tour mother and tall Canadian, fairest of the fair
Keeps it all together with common sense and
Profound organization skills
Looked up to by entire staff
Even Jim who is 6'4''

Jon Thurman
110% all the time
He'll do what it takes to get 'er done
Worked at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in NY
Both on farm and in kitchen

Jim Denevan
OITF founder and figurehead
Chef gone wild
Alternately stern & over-concerned
Or distracted & barely communicating
Filled with wonder of life's wonders

Eden Reilly
Reggae enthusiast
With killer wine knowledge
Stands out in the field

Caleb Coe
Bus driver, bus driver, bus driver (that is a lot of driving)
With a full load of culinary adventurers
Safely moving from place to place
Also chef, waiter and bon vivant as needed

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Taste of the Season

Outstanding in the Field has been very busy with events taking place across the country. Here's a peek of some of the pictures we've gathered from this year's events. It's been a very exciting successful season.

West Star Farm, Madison, WI

Powell Gardens, Kingsville, MO

Riverbend Farm, Delano, MN

Square Peg Farm, Forest Grove, OR

North Arm Farm, Pemberton, BC, Canada

Four Season Farm, Harborside, ME

Blue Willow Farm, Stevensville, MT

Full Circle Farm, Carnation, WA

Half Pint Farm, Burlington, VT

Kinnikinnick Farm, Caledonia, IL

Seattle Youth Garden Works, Seattle, WA

Munson Farms, Boulder, CO

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Us and everything else

Leaving town bus-less, with all of our belongings thrown into the back of the big white Dodge, we head North to the greener fields of Oregon and our first event destination: Square Peg Farm, just outside Portland. After a good night's sleep at a rustic campground outside Ashland, OR the first group conflict arises as members of our culinary adventure troupe have differences on what exactly is 'breakfast'. Jim and Eden say it's coffee and a danish, Sally wants a full American breakfast. John says ''I will eat or drink anything''. Leah needs a tea and prefers her hot cereal. Jeremy and Elaine just want to get going, apparently having no need for morning calories.

All these people traveling together in tight quarters and camping as we wait patiently for our new rolling home.

Monday, July 6, 2009

An idea that was a long time coming

A new bus!!!
Or rather a new old bus. After searching far and wide, we found
one! But of course we need some time to mourn the retirement of the
old bus (some of us at least). This will be a new era in Outstanding
in the Field history -- likely to be a better era considering the old 1953
Flexible only made it across the country 3 and 1/2 times out of our
last 5 cross-country tours. Here is a short clip of the old old bus on
it's last farm visit -- an all staff, no clutch start.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Outstanding goodbye California party/yard dinner

The Outstanding team gathered in the front yard of Outstanding in the Field founder Jim Denevan on July 4th for a ''we are outta here'' celebration. Outstanding staff past and present enjoyed a local foods feast: Fog Line Farm chicken and veggies, H & H Fresh Fish sardines and white sea bass, sheep's cheese from Rebecca King at the Westside Santa Cruz farmers market, some left over wines from previous events (Stag's Leap, Cline Cellars, Bonny Doon Vineyard) and a few herbs from Jim's yard.  A great send-off party!

Chicken plucking with Mali and Elaine

Farmer John Thurmond with his freshly harvested chicken

Setting off fireworks

Yard Dinner

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Tour of California

Every season we hit the ground running (with tables and chairs) and 2009 is no exception. We have now completed our first 11 dinners!! Riding on a rare lucky streak our generally unreliable 1953 bus Outstanding has made it to 11 out of the first 12 sites! We've seen hot days, cold days and everything in between (no rain though...). Orchard dinners, ranch dinners, vineyard dinners, hill top dinners, valley bottom dinners, cliff top dinners dinners close to the freeway dinners in the middle of nowhere, even dinners where diners were hit by waves...we've seen a lot.

Here are some photo highlights of a memorable early season:

May 23 & 24 - Devil's Gulch Ranch, Nicasio, CA

Devils Gulch Ranch Bus Parking

Outstanding in the Field dinner host Katy Oursler
bundles up for a chilly day with warm mittens

Guest Chef Steffan Terje of Perbacco restaurant, San Francisco, California
a warm and wonderful personality on a chilly day

Our long table in farmer Mark Pasternak's Marin County Pinot Noir vineyard

June 6 - McEvoy Ranch, Petlauma, CA

One of our longest tables ever - McEvoy Ranch

Nion McEvoy starts off the farm tour

McEvoy Vista

June 13, 14 - Secret Sea Cove Dinner, California Coast

The legendary Sea Cove Dinner site

The table is ready for guests

Here comes the surf...

Fisherman Hans Haveman pitches in to protect the table from rising surf

Guest Chef Mourad Lahlou of Aziza Restaurant in San Francisco, California

Dinner is served

Chef Stuart Brioza enjoying the perfect weather, pitches in in the kitchen.
Stuart had cheffed a bracingly chilly Outstanding in the Field vineyard dinner
at Devils Gulch Ranch a few weeks previous

Another beautiful day at the beach. Our second Sea Cove dinner.
Chef Jamie Lauren and pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez
along with Jered Lawson from Pie Ranch tour the table
with Outstanding founder Jim Denevan

June 17 - The Abalone Farm, Cayucos, CA

Brad Buckley of The Abalone Farm shows off the product at the cliff side table site

Very fresh abalone

Cliff edge parking for table and bus

Chef Deborah Scarborough's grilled squash blossom pizza

July 18 - Windrose Farm, Paso Robles, CA

Windrose Farm setting

Chef Chris Kobayashi of Artisan Restaurant, Paso Robles

In the cool shade of a towering oak tree

Halter Ranch - established 1880


June 20 - McGrath Family Farm, Camarillo, CA

Ventura County table

View from the bus

Among the gladiolas

Ready for guests

Farm tour!

Chef Tim Kilcoyne of The Side Car Restaurant, Ventura, CA

Ribollita of McGrath beans, beet greens and carrot top pesto

Dining in the field

June 21 - Coleman Farm, Carptineria, CA

At the Coleman's

Chef Jim with Chef Rich

Uni shooters to start

A kitchen with a view

roast pork with Coleman Farm's greens

From the table

June 27 - Clark Summit Farm, Tomales, CA

in the Field


Ready for the tour

After 11 successful dinner journeys the bus finally breaks down
right where the table is supposed to go

Katy keeps good cheer

Chef Melissa Perello carving the Clark Summit beef

Hilltop table

Stretching out into the sky

Outstanding crew sits down for family meal after the event ends

June 28 - Star Route Farm, Bolinas, CA

Warren Weber's coastal farm

Little Miss Sunshine redux

California weather

Cindy of the OITF staff

July 2 - Green String Farm, Petaluma, CA

Beautiful Sonoma County

Chef Christopher Lee brought his artisan made prosciutto slicer

OITF Bread by baker Mike Zakowski

Chef Christopher Lee in the field

Sonoma View

Passed hors d'oeuvres at the entrance to the barn

On site baking