.The Legacy of Outstanding in the Field

Distinguished chef Jim Denevan is behind one of Santa Cruz’s loftiest food events of the year

Twenty-three years ago, a lanky food artist named Jim Denevan connected some dots. Having worked with fresh organic produce as chef at Gabriella Cafe, he knew local growers. He’d walked their fields and enjoyed the magic of wandering through the tender new crops just before harvesting. The closer to the source of the food, he knew, the more connection from farmer to flavor. Why not take diners right out into the fields for their fresh-harvested dinner?

It was an idea that was springing up everywhere, but with Outstanding in the Field, Denevan took it further. From his brother’s apple orchards, all across the U.S and now in 16 countries around the world, Denevan sets his tables with the wares of local winemakers, farmers, brewers, chefs and fisher folk.

If you’ve never treated yourself to one of these amazing, al fresco, multi-course events—performances, celebrations, rituals—you might consider giving yourself a gift that spits in the face of inflation. A roving restaurant, without borders or limitations of the imagination, Outstanding in the Field is a truly unforgettable extravagance. Tickets are now on sale for the very last tables of Denevan’s 2022 OITF tour, which will require you to get on a plane and head for Africa. On Friday, Nov. 11, the Hendy Farms Mango Orchard hosts the moveable feast in Ghana, and on Saturday, Nov. 19, participants will dine under the olive trees of the Noor Fes Estate in Fez Morocco. I know it means you need to act boldly, but your passport’s up to date and what’s $365 among friends? Think about it. Just don’t take too long! outstandinginthefield.com.

Holiday Toasts

As far as wine tasting goes, there’s nothing more immediate and exciting than a barrel tasting, where you have a chance to go into the cellar where the wine is busy aging and sample some of the up and coming releases. How smart of Windy Oaks to invite us to a pre-holiday barrel tasting Nov. 18-20—Friday, Saturday and Sunday—at the gorgeous Corralitos estate.

Father and son winemakers Jim and Spencer Schultz will host the tastings, and you’ll also be able to sample newly released 2020 Whole Cluster Pinot Noir, and the new 2018 Brut Rosé of Pinot Noir. Expect to be impressed by handsomely packaged gift bundles of some of Windy Oaks’ top sellers. Nobody wouldn’t love to receive a premium wine from this outstanding producer. There will be live music and Oysters by Parker ($3) on Saturday and Sunday. $30/person each day. windyoaksestate.com.

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Homeless Garden Holiday

The annual celebration of the enterprising Homeless Garden Project unfolds on Dec. 1 at the Resource Center for Nonviolence. This popular event gives supporters of the HGP a chance to sample festive small bites and beverages, and check out items created in the HGP training program. Executive Director Darrie Ganzhorn reminded us that this special evening brings the group’s store of crafts directly to the guests. The opportunity to browse for special items will be wrapped around the screening of Mission: JOY, a visual account shot of conversations between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. After the film, stay for the presentation by Douglas Abrams, co-author with the Dalai Lama and Tutu of The Book of Joy, which inspired this behind-the-scenes documentary. The annual benefit offers food for thought, inspiration and a chance to see the handiwork of the Project’s trainees.

Homeless Garden Project’s Holiday Celebration is Thursday, Dec. 1, 6:30-9pm, at 612 Ocean St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $15/$10 at the Homeless Garden Project Downtown Store, 1338 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz.

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