A team of eleven chefs led by John Currence assembled to present an unforgettable feast made from ingredients harvested by local producers and grown from the deep roots of Mississippi soil.
This is Outstanding in the Field. A restaurant without walls and an unforgettable culinary experience designed to celebrate the community of people who have devoted their lives to bring nourishment to the table. This roving feast is the inspiration of Jim Denevan who, in 1999, set off on an adventure that hasn’t stopped yet. Jim and his team have curated meals across the globe on mountain tops, in sea caves and gardens and at farms, occasionally even under the roof of a refurbished barn, greenhouse or stately museum. In fact, the Outstanding in the Field team has produced 704 dinners to date in all 50 states and in 10 countries. They set the long table then travel in their iconic vintage 1953 Flxible bus to a new destination to do it all over again the next day.
130-150 people attend each event which is hosted by a farm family and a local chef. Menus are designed weeks in advanced and created to highlight the freshest seasonal ingredients from local producers. In fact, the producers are in attendance and given a moment during the feast to talk about their craft. Participants are also treated to a farm tour that ends at the dining spot usually around sunset. The meal is prepared by local chefs at a nomadic al fresco kitchen and served family style with each guest serving the next.
According to Anna Gelb, Director of Public Relations for Outstanding in the Field, some weeks the crew will do two dinners, other weeks there are five. There is not set pattern and it all depends on travel time. The locations are selected based on relationships Outstanding in the Field has cultivated over the years with farms and restaurants but they also strive to bring in new talent. Once an event is set, there is a lot of communication between Gelb and the chefs. They go back and forth on the menu, sourcing as much as possible from the host farm and the rest from other farms in the area. After all, that is the most important element of the meal.
This is the second time Outstanding in the Field has travelled to Oxford. The first event was in 2010 at the Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm. This year the bus parked at Elizabeth Heiskell’s Woodson Ridge Farms for a feast created by John Currence and eleven celebrated culinary friends, including Vishwesh Bhatt, Dwayne Ingraham, Kelly English, Ty Thames, Corbin Evans, Joel Miller, Brian Landry, Ryan Prewitt, Jonathan Magallanes, Lisa Donovan and Mitchell Moore.
It is the combination of chefs that really set the Oxford event apart. The menu was diverse and festive, highlighting such specialties as Woodson Ridge Farms butternut squash, goat cheese and rainbow chard strata with arugula and fall vegetables (prepared by Corbin Evans and Joel Miller), smoked whole gulf fish with chili vinai- grette garlic clove white shrimp, roasted garlic, rosemary, Woodson Ridge Farms piquillo peppers, Pedro Ximenez, arbequina and olive oil (prepared by Brian Landry, Ryan Prewitt and John Currance) and three additional fabulously delicious courses. Together, the chefs brought a truly memorable feast to the table. The grand finale to an unforgettable evening.
So if you ever see a vintage 1953 Flxible bus parked in your town, make sure to stop for an evening like no other—one that is truly Outstanding in the Field.