Ever hear of “Outstanding in the Field,” offering bespoke farm-to-table outdoor dinners? Learn how and where you can participate in this unique culinary adventure.

One of the many rewards of getting older is that we also get wiser! Our opinions shift and passions change, and we can afford to focus on our personal interests because our “nest” is empty and we are no longer tethered to the needs of the entire family.

My husband Craig and I are ardent culinary travelers. We search for unique restaurants and chef-inspired experiences that are out-of-the-ordinary. Three years ago, we discovered Outstanding in the Field (OITF), the brilliant brainchild of Jim Denevan.

An OITF farm-to-table outdoor dinner in Hama Hama, Washington

Outstanding farm-to-table outdoor dinners

Created in 1999, this roving farm-to-table outdoor feast goes from state to state – from the sandy beaches of the Pacific Coast to the Rocky Mountains, the Southwest and the Eastern Seaboard – connecting diners with local farmers, ranchers, chefs and fisherman.

We’ve enjoyed three dinners with OITF, and each experience has been entirely different from the other.

Two years ago, we dined in a community garden called Wattles Farm in the middle of Hollywood, California. Yes, there is such a thing! The next year we sat with 150 other foodies, at the longest table you could imagine, on the sand in Santa Cruz, California, at the Secret Sea Cove. During the meal we were treated to a spectacular hot pink sunset created by Mother Nature.

Suzanne and Craig Stavert before their beach dinner in Santa Cruz, California

These outdoor evenings are almost out-of-body experiences that couple the magic of nature with delicious all-organic food prepared by creative and talented chefs.

Our most recent culinary adventure with OITF took us deep into the verdant hills of Big Sur looking out over the valley. It was simply breathtaking!

All of the guests met at a designated spot on Pacific Coast Highway, just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea. We climbed into vans and after a 30-minute drive through forest roads on a private ranch, we arrived at the grassy meadow where we sipped local wines from Donkey and Goat winery and nibbled on savory bites.

farm-to-table outdoor dinners

Avocado delights are just an example of what may be served at an OITF dinner

farm-to-table outdoor dinners

Creative treats are garnished with edible flowers and herbs

After our cocktail hour, founder Jim Denevan spoke to us about his passion for bringing guests closer to where our food originates, literally on the same land.

We then hiked up a hill (most of the dinners do not include any strenuous exercise; this was a bit unusual) and sat among new friends from around the world.

This is just a section of the very long table at the Big Sur feast

The menu was carefully planned using sustainable local ingredients, lovingly prepared by chefs who have restaurants in the area.

To feed nearly 200 hungry food-loving people up on a hilltop, at least an hour away from civilization, is a monumental accomplishment.

The magical night was filled with laughter, new friends, great food and lots of wine!

Service with a smile!

What’s appealing to the over 50 traveler?

  • OITF is a farm-to-table culinary experience like no other.
  • You can spend time with other travelers who share many of the same passions that you do.
  • It’s thrilling to step out of your comfort zone and eat at a “restaurant without walls.”
  • Dining in an area of the country you’ve never visited before offers the opportunity to see that place.
  • This is an adult-only event.

Take note

  • The events are very popular and sell out quickly.
  • Spend time on the website perusing the many possibilities and decide which area of the United States you’d like to visit.
  • Plan ahead, even to the next year in order to get the reservation you desire.
  • There are NO refunds.


  • Get on OITF’s newsletter list for the announcement of the schedule. You can subscribe to it via OITF’s website.
  • Save your appetite! Make sure you come hungry!
  • OITF can accommodate some dietary restrictions if you send them an email before you make the reservation.
  • Bring warm jackets; you never know when the wind will change; OITF provides blankets for chilly evenings.
  • There are safe places to leave your extra things.
  • Wear comfy, flat shoes.
  • Bring your camera, there are many incredible photo opportunities (see this GOT article for some terrific photography tips).

Be sure to get the whole scoop on these unique farm-to-table outdoor dinners at Adventures of Empty Nesters!

A Farm to Table Dinner in Big Sur With Outstanding in the Field    

*Lead and Pinterest photos: Outstanding in the Field. All other photo credits: Suzanne Stavert

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