I have long admired the Instagram account of Outstanding In The Field (@out_inthefield) depicting photos of expansive tables arranged in fields, tables so long they stretch into the horizon, winding through fields and vineyards. Intrigued, I signed up on their website to be alerted for events in Phoenix, purchasing two tickets for me and Hubby when I saw that they were coming to Mesa this fall. Before long, it was October 17, and Hubby and I were seated at a simple, but elegant table in a farmer’s field at Steadfast Farm.
Founder of Outstanding In The Field (OITF), Jim Denevan from Santa Cruz (CA), started pop up dinners in 1999, at first pleading with family and friends to fill the spots. Eighteen years later, OITF holds farm-to-table celebrations in all 50 states and in 13 countries across the globe from France to Bermuda. OITF partners with local farmers to craft dining experiences that celebrate the farmer, land and food of the area. What Alice Waters would do if she were to take her show on the road, if you will.
The setting for the meal in Mesa was Steadfast Farm, a 2-acre organic bio-intensive farm run by landscape designer-cum-farmer, Erich Schultz. Bio-intensive farming strives to grow as much organic produce as possible on a small plot of land. Originally designed for developing countries low on resources, the aim of bio-intensive farming is to achieve long term sustainability.
Looking around, the setting looked slightly familiar, and then I learned that when Erich spent time as a landscape designer, he helped design the Agritopia Community Garden. He then became the Head Farmer at Agritopia in 2009.
You can sign up for the Steadfast Farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), choosing weekly or bi-weekly pick ups around the Valley at this link here. I signed up for a bi-weekly option, choosing to pick up at Pane Bianco to give me an excuse to gnaw on their tasty sandwiches.
Jeff Kraus from Crêpe Bar in Tempe provided the meal for our OITF dinner. Crêpe Bar at 7520 S. Rural Rd., has been a Valley leader in farm-to-table, organic cuisine since opening in 2012. Chef Jeff Kraus had a successful food truck concept, Truckin’ Good Food, before opening Crêpe Bar, and has earned various awards, most recently winning the 2018 Foodist award for Innovative Fast-Casual Chips with their Crêpe Chips – picture chilequiles but using crêpes instead of your classic corn tortilla chip. Chef Kraus also recently starring on Food Network’s “Chopped”.
The table was set, the wine was served, and we cheered to the farmers, chefs and OITF for making the evening possible. I couldn’t have crafted a more perfect night to usher in fall in the desert! xoM
Outstanding In The Field, www.outstandinginthefield.com.
Steadfast Farm, 22601 E Cloud Rd, Queen Creek, AZ 85142, www.steadfast-farm.com.
Crêpe Bar, 7520 S Rural Rd, Tempe, AZ 85283, www.crepe-bar.com.
All photos by Marci Symington for texAZtaste.com.