I head north along Kuhio Hwy toward Kilauea and catch the splash of a breaching whale out of the corner of my eye. Winter is here. I reflect on how amazing these creatures are and how the ocean is their lifeblood. I don’t pull over to watch, I am on my way to dinner with Outstanding in the Field.Â I am excited about the evenings event. Dinner on a farm, “Restaurant Without Walls”, where local chefs pair up with a local farm to create a meal.Â The concept seems novel, the idea romantic and the opportunity unique.
I arrive early to meet the guest farmer chef and staff.Â I am greeted by Tim O’Connor Host farmer. He politely asks me to park at the top of the freshly mowed pasture. I park, grab my camera and head over to introduce myself. Tim welcomes me to Olana Farm and gives me a little background on his vision and history of the farm. He has had the property for twelve years and has lived on it full time for the past seven.
The farm is beautiful. The house sits at the top of a gentle sloping hill, manicured and flourishing with life. Off in the distance the views of the Pacific. Tim tells me that he sells his produce at two of the weekly local farmers markets as well as to local restaurants. I am impressed by the pure organization of his garden beds of produce, herbs and fruit.
From the top of the farm nestled between the neatly planted rows of greens and citrus fruit sits a long table set with white linens and wine glasses. So simple and elegant is the contrast of green and white. An outdoor covered work area has been been transformed into a kitchen. The Kiawe wood burning grill, the crisp January air, and the natural surroundings make this a comfortable working space. Chef Aaron Leikam and Todd Oldham are busy prepping for the meal. I ask Aaron how he ended up on Kauai, he simply replies “It was serendipitous!”
I meet Leah and the crew, who In the past year alone have created over 87 farm to table dinners across the United States, Europe and now Hawaii. The team is busy making signs, putting the final touches on the table and setting up the service tables for the evening events.
I love the behind the scenes of what undoubtedly will be a spectacular event.Â A band of dark clouds is slowly moving in from the west. This is not the usual weather pattern, and a drastic change to the past two weeks of cloudless skies and light air. This is a brave time of year to hold an outdoor event on the North Shore of Kauai. There is no back up plan.
Casual and relaxed, Jim Denevan, founder and visionary of Outstanding in the Field, arrives on the farm just before the first guests start to arrive. He has been surfing. He had to catch just one wave and what surfer can resist the call of a Hawaiian surf session.
The evening starts off with a glass of Kava, not the ceremonial root found throughout the South Pacific, but in the form of a sparkling wine. Glass in hand we are given a tour of the farm, a history of its beginnings and future vision. Our pleasant and educational stroll ends at the beautifully set table in the field.
The night is a gracefully choreographed work of art. The creative vision, a farmers endeavor and a skilled passion for creating a meal that not only nourishes and is visually exquisite,but also tells a story.Â A simple story.
Outstanding in the Field will be hosting two more events in the Hawaiian Island this month. tickets are available through their website.