Field Trip: A True Farm-to-Table Experience
“At the confluence of food, friends, and farmers, we find community.”
The mission behind the Field Trip farm dinner series is quite simple: to literally bring the farm to the table. Spearheaded by gal pals Steph Fellows & Cassidy Seckman (also co-creators of Social Ice Cream Co.), their goal is to bring together farmers, chefs, winemakers, foodie friends, and community-oriented folks to share a seasonal meal together al fresco at the communal table at Biddle Ranch Vineyard.
In order to foster deep connections and personal interactions between these unique groups of people, Steph and Cassidy have thoughtfully and intentionally orchestrated the experience to unfold seamlessly throughout the evening. Every Field Trip gathering kicks off with refreshing spritz cocktails, mixed by the hostesses themselves. Next, guests are invited to mingle around the Dwell-esque farmhouse patio and meet their tablemates before settling into their assigned seats. Then comes the feast with dishes like rhubarb strawberry salad with straw smoked goat yogurt, cucumber, celery, and sea salt; grilled lamb with romanesco squash, green beans, and young onions (menu by Chef Spencer Johnston) or dry-farmed tomatoes and lemon cucumber panzanella; stuffed pork ribeye roast with zucchini pie and fire-roasted dragon’s tongue beans (menu by Chef Eli Byron). At the beginning of each course, there is a slight pause for edible education: the chef shares his inspiration behind each carefully crafted plate, and the winemaker shares the tasting notes about the particular wine pairing. “Once you are in that beautiful atmosphere conversing with people, and eating great food paired with great wine, we pause between each course because it allows us to bring the focus back to what’s in front of you,” explains Cassidy.
At this point, the sky is morphing into its signature SLO golden hour, the twinkly outdoor lights are sparkling overhead, the embers from the outdoor oven are radiating, and everyone is positively glowing from the wine… and now, for the moment we’ve all been waiting for—the unsung hero of the evening is finally given their proper spotlight: the farmer. The chef gives a hearty introduction and the admiration for both parties is palpable. The whole night has been leading up to this moment when the hard-working farmer can share their story, their expertise, and answer questions with the eager-to-be-educated diners and conscious consumers.
The overwhelmingly response is that everyone leaves Field Trip dinners with a deeper appreciation for their chef and winemaker, a greater gratitude for their local farmer, and even some newly found friendships.
Hop on the roll call to be notified about upcoming dinners at www.fieldtripwithus.com
WHY ARE FARM-TO-TABLE DINNER EXPERIENCES IMPORTANT?
1 question, 8 answers.
Field Trip Dinner Co-Founder
“Of course you can shop at farmers’ markets and meet all the farmers, but how often do you get to sit next to the farmer that provides all that food? Having people who normally don’t get the chance to talk or meet is great, it’s bringing the everyone closer together. When you surround yourself with people who appreciate building community, entrepreneurship, and meeting new people, it makes your life better—as simple as that. These dinners are little snippets of that: getting people out of their comfort zone, getting them to sit next to strangers. We know we are doing something right when all the pieces fall into place, and it’s the people that really make the experience what it is.”
Field Trip Dinner Co-Founder
“So many people came up to us after the dinners to thank us—but they are the ones that bought the tickets, they are the ones that value this, this is not about us at all! We just provided the space and they jumped on and believed it was important, that’s way more than anything we could ever do. The food is great, the vineyard is beautiful—but if people remember the community more than anything else that’s what’s important at the end of my day. That’s what has left the longest impact on everybody at the table.”
Biddle Ranch Vineyard — General Manager
“We want to bring people together over good food and good wine, and having a good time by taking advantage of all the resources that we have here—all the amazing chefs and the incredible farms in our area!”
Biddle Ranch Vineyard
“You need to know where you food and drinks come from, and what better way to know than to sit across the table from the farmer and the winemaker! I think it leads people to create bonds in their community. Personally when I go to the grocery store I don’t get that connection. When I go to the farmers’ market and I actually talk to the farmer and create a bond with them, it ties me to them—in the end it’s better for our community and the world!”
Field Trip Dinner #1 — Chef
“It’s our responsibility as young people and the next generation moving forward to re-center what we think about industrial agriculture and what it means to eat, what it means to feed ourselves, and what it means to feed our children in the future. I think it’s really important to establish a center where you can have a community and seek nutrition from that community.”
Field Trip Dinner #1 — Farmer
“Even when people go into a restaurant that is supposedly farm-to-table, there still can be a disconnect, especially when the restaurant is busy. So when it’s [an] intimate [dinner] like this: when you can meet the farmer personally, see how things are grown, and watch the chef prepare the meal, you are just more connected. It’s surprising how disconnected people are from what’s in season.”
Field Trip Dinner #2 — Chef
“It connects the dots for people, even for me. How can we—the farmers, the winemakers, and the chefs—create something together to utilize the produce at the height of the season, and how can we bring community together to taste that and listen to that. You feel the expression from all of us, all at one table. Hopefully it becomes the talk of the town and we are able to do more! It brings in more diners into the area, and it educates the diners that are already here.”
Field Trip Dinner #2 — Farmer
“I hope the people at the dinner table will see the connection that food brings—that it can be grown locally and a small farm can feed a large group of people, it might not be able to feed a whole community or a whole city, but a big part of it can be provided locally. I think that’s so important to do, to keep that local connection. I think it’s important to show them what it takes to bring a meal to the table. I love seeing more people, especially the younger generation, understanding the food chain through educational dinners."
Originally published in Edible San Luis Obispo & Wine Country
Holidays 2016 · Issue 16