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"Dinners in the Field" at WillaKenzie Estates

Written by Sheila G. Miller

It could be in a barn, or at a long table under the stars in a vineyard that you taste a perfectly braised piece of elk or a handcrafted wedge of locally made cheese. No matter where it takes place or what you get to eat, attending one of Field & Vine’s “Dinners in the Field” is guaranteed to feature farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients paired with a  fine wine.

Chef Pascal Chureau, the chef/owner of Field & Vine, has been hosting these legendary meals in locations from Salem to Portland, at ranches, on farms and in vineyards, for five years now. The common theme? The bounty of Oregon served up with expertise.

At every restaurant Chureau has been involved with, he has featured family-style dinners. “On the last Sunday of every month, we had a dinner focused on either a region or a country, or a theme food, like tomato or mushroom,” he said. “Those were very successful, always.”

And then one day I said, ‘I’m going to take you to the farm instead of bringing the farmer to the restaurant.

That first summer Chureau put together two of the farm events; the second year it blossomed to six. “They all sold out as well, so we kept going,” he said. The third year? Fourteen dinners, then twenty-one, then twenty-five. This year will feature thirty-one “Dinners in the Field”, as they’re now known. Field & Vine Events also offers catering for weddings and other special events, and Chureau serves as chef and owner of the Allium Bistro in West Linn.

Each year, the events take place at some of the finest small farms in Oregon, and this year several of Oregon’s most acclaimed wineries have also signed on to pair with the state’s finest meats, cheeses and produce. At the dinners, guests feast on a six- or seven-course dinner paired with Oregon-made wine, beer or other spirits. The chef shares cooking advice and stories while the host—be it a farmer, winemaker or rancher—takes guests on tours around the property and shares information on the ingredients used in the meal.

Photos courtesy of Field and Vine Events

At first, Chureau worried the many events might dilute the customer base—was there that much of a market for this many dinners? Not to worry—many of the dinners have sold out, and Chureau said an event he had coming up in early August had 220 people attending. “I couldn’t say no to a lot of people,” he said, laughing. “It’s a big property so it won’t be too much.”

The events’ popularity is thanks at least in part to Oregonians’ increasing interest in where their food comes from. “I think going into the farm and sitting around with chickens and rusty tractors and hay bales, you get a glance of what their life is,” he said. “You might say, ‘Oh that’s a nice tomato.’ But here they’re learning what it takes to make nice tomatoes—hard work.”

And there’s an added bonus—you’re not learning about your food in some dining room—“You’re outside, it’s beautiful, there’s a sunset,” Chureau said. “You can walk around and try wines.”

In order to recruit farms, Chureau partnered with the Oregon Farm Loop, and when he started the dinners he knocked on lots of farmers’ and winemakers’ doors. “I’ve never had anybody say no to us,” he said. “Not yet.”

Now the dinners have become so popular that farmers and winemakers call him to get on the schedule. In addition, the program offers three dinners that benefit Farmers Ending Hunger, a program that helps agricultural groups feed the hungry.

Now that Field & Vine has mastered the art of “Dinners in the Field”, Chureau is ready to take on a new challenge—trips. He hopes to plan and put on a few overnight events, perhaps including river rafting or horseback riding. And while he wants repeat visitors, he also hopes to attract more customers for the first time.

“We have a lot of repeats,” he said. “We have people who keep coming back, and then they come back with people they made friends with at our dinners. It’s really cool. There are a lot of friendships that get created around those tables.”

For more information on Field & Vine’s events, go to fieldandvineevents.com.

Remaining 2017 Dinners in the Field

 

August 6 Rare Plant Research and Villa Catalana Cellars with Portland Cider Company

11900 S. Criteser Road, Oregon City, OR 9704

August 12 Beckham Estate Vineyard with Portland Creamery30790 SW Heater Road, Sherwood, OR 97140
August 26 Domaine Serene with Dundee Hill Food Forest

6555 NE Hilltop Lane, Dayton, OR 97114

September 2 Fir Point Farms with Twill Cellars

14601 Arndt Road, Aurora, OR 97002

September 9 Fiala Farms with Solena Estate

21231 SW Johnson Road, West Linn, OR 97068

September 16 Terra Vina Wines with Goldin Artisan Goat Cheese

33750 SW Ladd Hill Road, Wilsonville, OR 97070

September 23 Douglas Farm with Owen Roe

15330 NW Sauvie Island Road, Portland, OR 97231

Partner with Farmers Ending Hunger

September 30 Penner-Ash Wine Cellars with Briar Rose Creamery

15771 NE Ribbon Ridge Road, Newberg, OR 97132

October 7 St. Josef’s Estate Vineyards & Winery with Portland Cider Company

28836 S. Barlow Road, Canby, Oregon 97013

October 14 Cornell Farm with Stoller Family Estates

8212 SW Barnes Road, Portland, OR 97225

October 21 Fairsing Vineyard with Briar Rose Creamery

21455 NE Burkett Hill Rd, Yamhill, OR 97148

October 28 Eola Hills Wine Cellars501 S. Pacific Hwy, 99W, Rickreall, OR 97371
November 4 Tumwater Vineyard with Tranquil Farms

375 SW Barrel House Way, West Linn, OR 97068

November 11 Rosse Posse Acres Elk Farm with Forest Edge Vineyard

32690 S. Mathias Road, Molalla, OR  97038

December 2 Dobbes Family Estate with Green Bison Ranch

240 SE 5th Street, Dundee, OR 97115

December 9 WillaKenzie Estate

19143 NE Laughlin Road, Yamhill, OR 97148

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