with acclaimed regional chefs at each stop.
Scott Pampuch, chef/owner of Corner Table,
Minneapolis, did a dinner with Denevan
when he came to town two years ago, and
was inspired to put together his own version
of moveable feasts, Tour de Farm, in 2009.
“That first experience was so beautiful,” says
Pampuch, “so fundamental to my mission
and the concept behind the restaurant,
that I asked myself why we couldn’t do a
local version that would complement, not
compete with, Jim’s efforts.”
His first foray—five dinners at $85 per
person including beer and wine, each
seating 100 and spotlighting a different
chef—sold out in two weeks. It was
executed on a shoestring budget with
much help and all beverages donated.
“We cost it out and realized we couldn’t
do it for less than $150 per ticket,” says
Pampuch. “I know some people will be
unhappy and call us elitist. To counter that,
in addition to four dinners this season, we’ve
scheduled two more-casual, family friendly
farm picnics. Prices are $50 for adults, $15
for children 6-12, and younger kids are free.”
He has also scheduled a New Year’s Eve
dinner in a barn on a sheep farm.
Sunday suppers. That’s the traditional time
for farmers to relax,” Pampuch says.
He has a waiting list of farmers and
restaurants that want to participate.
DINNERS AT THE FARM™,
This summer, Jonathan Rapp, chef/owner
of River Tavern in Chester, Conn., hosts
an ambitious 12 dinners. To manage costs
and maximize efficiency, they’ll be held
over four weekends, on Thursdays, Fridays
and Saturdays, at two farms. Based on
past attendance, he expects to serve 125-
150 per night. A portion of the proceeds
benefits local nonprofit agricultural and
“This is our fourth year for Dinners at the
Farm™,” says Rapp, who launched the
project with a farmer and gourmet-market
owner (who’s also a chef). “It’s been
nothing but positive for all participants.
We’ve been able to donate thousands and
thousands of dollars to our chosen causes,
and I’ve gotten media coverage that keeps
the restaurant in the public’s mind.”
A vintage fire truck was retrofitted as a mobile
kitchen, with a stove in a flatbed at the back.
TIPS FOR PREPPING
IN A PASTURE
Rapp does all the cooking, assisted by a tight
team of six sous chefs and wait staff from the
restaurant’s ranks, plus two volunteers from
the groups that receive funds. A multiple-course format allows him to showcase
seasonal bounty. Since Rapp no longer
mans the line day to day at River Tavern, the
restaurant runs smoothly in his absence.
“These dinners allow me to be a chef again
in the purist kind of way,” he notes. “I’m as
The National Culinary Review | June 2010
Unlike Outstanding in the Field’s signature
single long communal table, Tour de Farm
mimics a basement social, familiar to
guests, arranging banquet tables in rows.
Some courses are plated, some served
family style. All are held on Sundays at 4
p.m. “The idea is that we’re gathering for
Guests mingle and enjoy freshly made
cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvre at
White Gate Farm, East Lyme, Conn., part of
the popular Dinners at the Farm series.
Michelle Parr Paulson