Good Neighbors: Outstanding in the Field’s Jim Denevan

sand drawing by jim

It’s nice when you get an outdoor table at a restaurant on a beautiful day; everything seems to taste better. Imagine having a deliciously fresh, locally sourced meal served to you on a vineyard, a beach, a mountain, or in the middle of a meadow and there’s nothing for miles but trees and sky, and maybe a wind turbine. This kind of dreamy dining setting is available through Outstanding in the Field, now in its 11th year of delivering inspiring culinary experiences to the masses.

Outstanding in a VineyardIn 2011, chef-artist Jim Denevan and his team traveled to eight countries, producing 87 events for over 13,000 foodies and agricultural enthusiasts alike. Although he’s quick to point out that there are 20 knock offs of OITF around the world, Jim says in earnest, “From the beginning, I really hoped that people would copy the concept and do it in their own communities.”

The dates and destinations for the 2012 season have just been released, although the juicy details, like which award-winning chefs will cook and which venue will host, are still under wraps. Tickets will be available for purchase on March 20.

Before Jim embarks on his ninth tour across America, we caught up with the sustainable food movement’s darling to discuss his favorite places to eat, drink, and enjoy a good brioche with a view of the Pacific Ocean.

Dinner in the City:
The Blue Plate in the Mission. Owner chef Cory Obenour is so funny and talented and he has created a restaurant with perfect atmosphere. Gathered on the cheap, the decor is a mix of the personal and the available. I gave Cory his first ever kitchen job, when I was chef at Gabriella Cafe in Santa Cruz. So pleased Cory went on to greatness. Menu is mostly contemporary cuisine, but try the classic meatloaf.”

New Spots to Try in SF:
Commonwealth. Chef Jason Fox is the friendliest and most generous of chefs. Whether he is in the restaurant or cooking out on the farm, he is a pleasure to be around. His menu is constantly creative. Order something new and surprise yourself.”

Dinner in the South Bay:
Manresa in Los Gatos. Chef David Kinch has influenced so many Bay Area chefs. Come by and find out why. Go for the works: The full tasting menu with the best wines. An occasion to remember and repeat.”

Where to Go For Brunch:
The Cliff House in S.F. for the spectacular view of the ocean (and maybe even a view of me doing a sand drawing at one of my favorite beaches) but also for the food. The Brioche is addictive. Best Benedict anywhere.”

Places to Visit Out of Town:
“Alive and still kicking—Duarte‘s restaurant in Pescadero (about an hour south of SF). Menu is unchanged since 1955. Try the artichoke soup. The legendary Duarte’s bar is adjacent. This bar has more character and worn-down charm than any bar on earth.”

Stop By This Winery:
“Take a trip up to Ridge and drink in the view. Overlooks all of Silicon Valley and S.F. Bay (go on a clear day). Winemaker Paul Draper is a regional and national treasure.”

Don’t miss a chance to win two tickets to any 2012 California dinner with Outstanding in the Field! Visit offMetro’s contest giveaway page for more information on how you can easily enter to win.

Photo: Outstanding in the Field