For the longest time, I had been wanting to attend an Outstanding in the Field farm dinner. However, be it timing, cost, or distance, I simply couldn't make it happen. Until, seemingly out of the blue, Ilana sent me this text message on Friday afternoon:
"Funny question: any chance you want to work the event tomorrow?"
This was it – my way of attending a dinner at long last. Sure, it wasn't going to be exactly what I had envisioned but hell, I was going to be there! Plus, I was even getting paid – eliminating my previous financial concerns.
I arrived at McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma to an open farm, two trailers full of tables, chairs, linens, an entirely deconstructed kitchen: not to mention a dozen wonderful, easy-going, hard working staff members ready to give 163 guests a meal they would never forget.
But after four hours of hands-on hard work, sweat (lots and lots of sweat), heavy lifting and meticulous attention to detail, the transformation from rugged agriculture to pristine elegance can only be described as magical.
The ambiance was familial, genuine, and sincere. It radiated with charm and class without remotely touching snooty. Roosters crowed and geese honked every so often as a reminder to everyone of their surroundings - as if being inches from the same olive trees that provided the table's oil weren't enough.
An experience here is unrivaled. We were mere miles away from the gardens that grew many of the vegetables we enjoyed that evening. We were mere miles from vineyards where grapes for the accompanying wines were grown. We were back to the roots of our food, our farmers, and ourselves.
Outstanding in the Field has honed in on something truly unique, and over the next six months will provide this same quality evening over 75 more times: and there is no doubt in my mind that each one will be as magnificent as the last.