Published on May 8th, 2014 | by Jennifer Kaplan0
Restaurant Without Walls Takes Table-to-Farm Meals To 50 States
Outstanding in the Field is a “roving culinary adventure – literally a restaurant without walls” and lucky for all of us, OTIF is coming back this year bigger and better. This year they are calling it the “50 States Tour” and when it’s over, OITF will have staged events in all 50 states across the USA.
The 2014 schedule includes stops in the last five states not yet visited — South Dakota, North Dakota, West Virginia, Kansas and Nevada. Since 1999 OTIF has “set long tables at farms or gardens, on mountain tops or in sea caves, on islands or at ranches” across the country in a series of pop-ups that pre-dated the concept of pop-ups. The brain child of chef/artist Jim Denevan, OTIF started with a farm to table meal in 1999. It chugged along but once top chefs like David Kinch (Manresa), Dan Barber (Blue Hill) and Charles Phan (The Slanted Door) started to accept Jim’s invitation to cook in OITF’s field kitchens, people started paying attention.
And it really is much more than just a great meal. Each meal starts with a tour of the site, and then diners partake in meals created in a “nomadic al fresco kitchen.” This year’s food is being cooked by reknowned chefs such as Tom McNaughton, Ari Taymor, and Asha Gomez, and eaten along side the cheesemakers, fishermen, beekeepers, farmers, ranchers and often winemakers responsible for growing and making the stuff at the table. Although the venues vary from beaches on the Pacific Coast to urban rooftops, the simple mission of each dinner remains constant:
…re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it… Ingredients for the meal are almost all local (sometimes sourced within inches of your seat at the table!)
Over the years, more than 65,000 people been fortunate enough to participate in an OTIF meal. Since the first dinner in 1999, OTIF has staged more than 600 table-to-farm events and completed 10 tours of North America. Denevan and his team have set OITF’s table in eight countries outside the US — Canada, Wales, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Denmark, The Netherlands and Brazil.
More than 230 farms, ranches, dairies, urban gardens and vineyards across North America and around the world have hosted OTIF guests, and more than 300 talented culinary artists have prepared feasts in OITF’s traveling kitchen. Nearly 80 of those guests chefs are James Beard nominees and/or award winners. Of the 2014 James Beard award contenders, 38 chefs have cooked in OITF’s field kitchen and eight more from the 2014 crop of nominees are on OITF’s 2014 schedule.
See the full 2014 schedule for more information.