UMAMI MART MATSURI FESTIVAL
By Matt Zuckerman
Photos by Matt Zuckerman and Barry Blanton

Jim Denevan went local. Several years ago, the chef and artist wanted to educate, entertain and feed his friends with a fresh meal. He did so by preparing and serving one on the very farm the food was grown and raised. From this, Outstanding in the Field was born – now a touring restaurant.

I was lucky enough to score a reservation to their recent dinner in East Hampton (and by lucky, I mean, I was on the Outstanding website precisely as the dinner was announced – they were completely booked within minutes).

For the last few years, Jim and his small crew have been traveling North America in an old bus, stopping along the way to serve up local meals. They setup their long table right in the middle of a farm, wrangle a local chef and concoct scrumptious meals.

My dinner was held at the East End Community Organic Farm, a co-op for local green thumbs. Our chef was Jason Weiner of the Parisian bistro Almond in Bridgehampton. The meal Jason put together, at his makeshift kitchen right beside the long table, included a bluefish escabeche with green zebra and sungold tomatoes; Whole roasted fluke with a warm mushroom vinaigrette; Crescent farm duck, corn succotash, tarragon and potatoes; And for dessert, peaches, goat yogurt, honey and almonds.

Each dish was prepared simple, which allowed the taste buds to enjoy the natural and fresh flavors (the way food is meant to be enjoyed). It all popped in a way that most meals just don't. Can't anymore.

The experience however ran much deeper than just the meal itself. It was a chance to see and understand where and what it was that you were eating. Sitting among the very vegetables that we consumed was only the half of it. To my left sat David of Open Minded Organics who farms the mushrooms we ate and beside him was Ian of Balsam Farm who grows the tomatoes. It was an education for the mind and senses.

As the sun set in a beautiful mirage of oranges and reds, we sipped our wine and reflected, it was hard not to think that this is how food ought to be served: local.

Jim Deneven

*Editor's note: Matt Zuckerman is the co-founder of BZ Films, a film production company specializing in anything from commercials and music videos, to sports clips and documentaries. He recently traveled to Haiti where he shot a documentary on the epic damages brought upon by the Summer's tropical storms.
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7 comments

  • Wow! Love how they set up just one long row of tables. So simple and elegant. I bet the food was amazing. Great photos.

    friedwontons4u on

  • i read about this guy years ago and have always wanted to go to one of his dinners. awesome! and great photos!

    erin on

  • Great photos! I’m hungry now :)

    Did you know they have a similar show on PBS? I think it’s called Moving Feast.

    Olga on

  • Congrats, you made tasteaspotting too

    Yamahomo on

  • Very very cool and interesting idea!

    Sonja on

  • I hope to be able to afford a ticket for one of them this summer. Would make for a great roadtrip w/friends.

    Paystyle on

  • We experienced our first Outstanding in the Field dinner recently which was held October 25th 2008 in Napa, California. My expectations we somewhat low given that it wasn’t until the last moment we were told the menu would be vegetarian. Well, this wasn’t an issue. Chefs Jeremy Fox and Deanie Hickox-Fox of Ubuntu did a great job of bringing what remained of the summer garden to the table.

    Overall the staff and hosts were great. The garden was awesome and the weather was great. I look forward to making it to another event soon. I just hope I can score tickets in the first few hours before they sell out!

    Read More….. http://www.foodgeektv.com/?/blog/post/58/

    troy on

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