Outstanding in the Field Dinner in Dane, Wisconsin at J. Henry Bourbon Farms with Chef Dan Fox and Heritage Catering. What an experience!
If you’ve never heard of Outstanding In The Field, pay attention. They travel across the country and globe and host these magnificent and beautiful farm tours and dinners. You have to take a look at their website to see where they’ve been. Dinners on the beach in Bermuda to dinners in a vineyard in Burgundy, France to right here in Wisconsin. “We are Outstanding In The Field: Setting tables at the source of ingredients, serving from Table to Farm across the country and globe.”
As soon as I found out they were coming to Wisconsin again, I knew I had to get tickets. This is actually the second year in a row they have come to Dane, to J. Henry Bourbon & Sons and hosted this dinner with Chef Dan Fox.
My friend, Chris, and I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Denevan. Jim is the founder and CEO of Outstanding in the Field. He created “Outstanding in the Field in 1999, seeking to connect people to the farmers who grow our food, and the land it comes from. Jim has also been a professional chef, model, surfer and artist; creating stunning sand drawings on a massive scale. Today, Jim’s art commissions take him around the world, and he in turn takes the Outstanding in the Field Team to even more exotic farm dinner locations.”
Jim was so great to meet in person. He is super handsome and charming . . and very tall. I admire his vision in starting Outstanding in the Field and I love what they are doing. As someone who loves food and feeding people and bringing people together to a table over food and conversation, they are doing exactly what I believe in and love.
Once you arrive to the farm, you are greeted by someone from The Outstanding in the Field. There’s time to mingle, grab a cocktail, go on a farm tour and EAT.
The brilliant and super talented team of Alex Kjell (Bar Manager at Heritage Tavern) and Roger Allen from Heritage Tavern were serving up the most delicious cocktails with J. Henry Bourbon. . this one was “Currantly at The Henry’s” .. see the beautiful currants? Red Currant infused J. Henry & Sons Bourbon, Wollersheim Ruby Port, Tart Cherry Cordial, Red Currant Syrup with lemon and basil.
All of the food was from Heritage Catering, led by – the one and only – Chef Dan Fox and team. I’ve said this many many times but Heritage Tavern is my favorite restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin. Not only for the delicious food and creative craft cocktails but also because of Chef Dan Fox and his entire team: front of house and everyone in the kitchen.
Running a restaurant is hard work and sometimes, it’s hard to find good people. . I know this because my father has been running restaurants ever since I can remember. . and every time I go to Heritage Tavern, I get a delicious meal and drinks served by someone who is kind, attentive and courteous and overall, who seems happy to be there. I’ve also gotten to know Chef Dan and his team pretty well and they are all just great people.
The Outstanding in the Field Dinner started with passed appetizers. I wasn’t able to photograph them all because I was busy eating. These Squash Blossoms with goat cheese were insanely delicious. Hickory Heaven hickory nut & goats’ cheese (or chèvre) stuffed Garden To Be Squash blossoms.
Leroux Produce summer melon, coppa picante, toasted hazelnut, bonito and tagarashi.
For the dinner, you can bring your own plate, or a plate is provided to you. We grabbed our plates and a seat and met a lot of great people.
We two women Chris and I were sitting across from were from Illinois. For one, this was her 6th Outstanding in the Field dinner and they had both attended the dinner last year at J. Henry Bourbon.
All of the food was amazingly delicious. There were 225 to 230 people at the dinner table. I’ve been to dinners before where I feel like the food wasn’t great . . it’s hard to cook for that many people . . but everything was perfect, delicious and beautifully plated and presented.
We started with roasted Savory Accents shishito peppers, pine nuts and bonito flakes.
Wisconsin Rushing Waters rainbow trout paupiette smoked Alsum Sweet Corn summer corn emulsion with Fox Heritage Farms bacon lardon-wilted squash shoots, whitefish mousse and corn stalk cream sauce. This was amazing!!!
I have a video of the J. Henry & Sons bourbon-brined Willow Creek Farms pork chop with barbequed Fox Heritage Farms pork belly, crispy pork shoulder & raclette-studded boudin, grilled cabbage, sauce perigord & Door County Fruit Market stone fruit.
You have to head over to Instagram to watch my highlights of this dinner to get the full experience (through video) and to see the full meal.
Over dinner, I love the fact that you are forced to meet new people, engage and have a conversation, make new friends and . . . I actually put down my iPhone. I truly struggle with this so much. Social media is part of my job but life isn’t about that. It’s about engaging and human to human contact and conversation. So, I put my phone away and had a blast.
On one end of the table, the conversation was riveting: TED Talks, social media, Facebook (how this social media platform is like being addicted to drugs. read this, what it means in life to be happy, how you raise your kids, how to live a longer, fuller happier life. . I’m not kidding you. . this was the table conversation. I loved it.
I’m trying to find the TED talk that we were discussing but basically it’s this: challenge yourself everyday, with what you do, keep your mind, brain and body active and have a positive attitude and outlook on life. Enjoy people. Be kind to everyone. Doing this will not only make you happier but will help you live longer.
And at the end of the night, the most amazing DESSERT came out from Chef Jamie .. brown butter pâte sucrée, toasted hazulnut frangipane, Door County Fruit Market sour cherry compote with Alsum Sweet Corn-bourbon whipped cream. It was so good, I licked my plate. I wish I got a shot of the dessert but Chris did, so be sure to check out her stories.
If there’s an Outstanding in the Field Dinner coming your way, I cannot recommend this dinner to you enough! Go hungry and be ready to have some fun. The wine was overflowing, the food amazing and we ended the night by doing the wave! I’m not even joking. Go to Chris’ Instagram to see the action. So much fun.