Napa Valley's Beyond the Kitchen Dinner Party Brings the Table to the Farm
Forget all this “farm to table” nonsense. Why bother, when you can just bring the table to the farm? At least that is Chef William Heubel’s idea behind his Beyond the Kitchen dinner party series, which will be staged at a different farm in Napa Valley each Saturday throughout the summer.
The series kicks off this Saturday, July 14 at Connolly Ranch (a not-for-profit farm which provides education for Bay Area children), featuring produce from Big Ranch Farm (think heirloom tomato bruschetta with arugula pesto and fire-roasted beet salad), meat from Five Dot Ranch and Fatted Calf (who needs foie gras when you have a bacon-wrapped New York strip loin), and cheese and bread from fine local producers. And since “you can’t have a dinner in Napa Valley without wine,” according to Heubel, Renteria and Honig wineries will provide pairings for the five-course meal, which culminates in a bonfire and marshmallow roasting party (you can’t do that at Chez Panisse).
Heubel, who is now a full-time instructor at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, was inspired to start the dinner series as a way of bringing attention to the local food systems and rebuilding consumer’s connection with the farmers who grow our food. “Napa Valley is an agricultural hub. Not just a place to grow grapes,” says Heubel.
Chef Heubel first realized the importance of having a strong relationship with local farmers and ranchers early in his career when he was living and working in Hawaii. In such a self-contained environment, he was forced to deal almost exclusively with local, seasonal products. “What you put on your table is pretty darn important, which is why it is important to know who your farmers are.” Before digging in, each Beyond the Kitchen dinner will include a guided tour of the farm, during which guests will hear firsthand why and how the featured farmer does what he does — from composting to micro-irrigation. “It’s all about respect: for the land, the people, the product,” says Heubel.
Tickets are $125 per person, which includes the wine and the education. You can purchase those tickets here.