That picture above looks pretty splendid, huh? It was taken two summers ago at the Dietzler Farm in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, part of the annual “Outstanding in the Field” tour. The tour bus (literally) snakes its way across the country all summer, pairing up local chefs with local farms, and usually hits the Illinois/Wisconsin/Michigan farms in late August. But for all the press OITF gets, there are other, home-grown organizations that also organize farm dinners. In some cases, the farms themselves organize things, and recruit a local chef to come over for the day and cook.
These five are all reputable, and weather permitting, I’m sure the dinners will look as if they’ve been photo styled for a cover of a magazine.
1. City Provisions
Dates: May – Sept.
Contact: (773) 293-2489
Owner Cleetus Friedman does a masterful job of taking care of everything from soup to nuts: all you do is show up, get on a bus, then enjoy the day. He also organizes the Botanical Garden dinners (see #5 below).
2. Outstanding In the Field
The tour hits Dietzler Farm in Elkhorn, WI on Aug. 12th (Dan Van Rite, Kelly Qualley, Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub, Milwaukee) and 13th (Jared Wentworth, Longman & Eagle); Aug. 15 at Kinnikinnick Farm in Caledonia, IL (Brian Huston, The Publican); Aug. 16 at City Farm, corner of Clybourn & Division (Jason Vincent, Nightwood) SOLD OUT; Aug. 19 at Seedling Farm in South Haven, MI (Michael Sheerin & Patrick Sheerin, The Trenchermen, Chicago)
3. Slagel Family Farm, Fairbury, IL
Contact: (815) 848-9385, www.brownpapertickets.com
Web page includes all relevant info and summer lineup (Jun. – Oct.)
June 9 with Paul Kahan and Brian Huston of The Publican
August 4th with Jason Vincent of Nightwood and Chris Pandel of The Bristol
4. Prairie Fruits Farm, Champaign, IL
Dates: May – Dec.
Contact: (217) 643-2314
This goat farm produces some of the best chevre around, and the setting is truly bucolic.
5. Chicago Botanical Garden
Outdoor farm dinners using Midwest-grown ingredients at the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden. Features farmers, food artisans and wine/beer/spirits makers. Meals prepared by Cleetus Friedman, of City Provisions.
Dates: Jul. 18, Aug. 15, Sept. 5
Contact: (847) 835-5440