Not so 'Outstanding' on the internet: web snafu derails advanced tickets for popular summer feast

March 22, 2010


Outstanding in the Field, 2009 (photo by Steve Dolinsky)

There are all kinds of special dinners that go on in Chicago in a given year. People are now holding underground dinner parties as often as the city raises parking rates. Then you have the almost daily "wine dinner" or "beer dinner," when some expert brewer or winemaker comes to town to pair his/her libations with a four-course offering from a local chef. But few dinners get me as excited as the annual Outstanding in the Field dinner I try to attend every summer. It's a traveling caravan of local/seasonal food missionaries, organizing special dinners that pair up a local chef with an assortment of regional farmers. Not only is the food sublime, but the setting is spectacular as well: always one, long table, set up in someone's farm field; in the case of the dinner I usually attend in the city, it's typically at City Farm, at the nexus of Division and Clybourn. You bring your own dinner plate, which you use throughout the multi-course meal. It's the kind of image and mood that evokes a dinner fantasy worthy of Alice Waters or a Ruth Reichl photo spread

This past weekend, tickets were supposed to go on sale for all of the dinners slated for the upcoming summer, but apparently, a major snafu overwhelmed the website. That means you've got a second chance to get in on the Chicago-area dinners:‚  Aug. 2 at Dietzler Farm in Elkhorn, WI (Vie's Paul Virant will be cooking); Aug. 4 in Grant Park (chef Randy Zweiban of Province); Aug. 5 at City Farm (Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate) and finally, Aug. 7 in Caledonia, near Rockford, on Kinnikinnick Farm (chefs Paul Kahan and Brian Huston of The Publican). Here are a few of my pictures from last year's dinner at City Farm: