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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

"Dinners in the Field" at WillaKenzie Estatesmore

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.

2018 Dinners in the Field

May 12 Barn Kestrel with Owen Roe

20050 SW Johnson Rd, West Linn, OR 97068

May 26 Penner Ash Wine Cellars

71 NE Ribbon Ridge Rd, Newberg, OR 97132

June 2 Gran Moraine Winery with Pitch Dark Chocolate

17090 NE Woodland Loop Rd, Yamhill, OR 97148

June 9 Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm with Indio Spirits

14601 Arndt Road, Aurora, OR 97002

June 16 King’s Raven Winery with Marion Acres

11603 S New Era Rd, Oregon City, OR 97045

June 22 Hunter Creek Horse Show with Portland Cider Company and Twill Cellars

14441 SW Wilsonville Rd, Wilsonville, OR 97070

June 23 Beacon Hill Winery with Vibrant Greens

22040 NE Ridge Rd, Gaston, OR 97110

June 30 Tualatin Estates Vineyard with Pitch Dark Chocolate

10850 NW Seavey Rd, Forest Grove, Oregon 97116

June 30 Fir Point Farms with Trail Distilling and Forest Edge Vineyards

14601 Arndt Rd, Aurora, OR 97002

July 7 Terra Vina Wines with TMK Creamery

33750 SW Ladd Hill Rd, Wilsonville, OR 97070

July 14 Lange Estate Winery with Santos Family Farm

18380 NE Buena Vista Dr, Dundee, OR 97115

July 21 Alexeli Vineyards and Winery with Portland Creamery

35803 S. Highway 213, Molalla, OR 97038

July 28 Pete’s Mountain Vineyard with Tranquil Farms

28101 SW Pete’s Mountain Rd, West Linn, OR 97068

August 4 Methven Family Wines with Briar Rose Creamery

11400 SE Westland Ln, Dayton, OR 97114

August 11 Alloro Vineyard with Santos Family Farm

22075 SW Lebeau Rd, Sherwood, OR 97140

August 11 Beckham Estate Vineyard

30790 SW Heater Rd, Sherwood, OR 97140

August 18 Christopher Bridge Wines with Briar Rose Creamery

12770 S Casto Rd, Oregon City, OR 97045

August 25 Elk Cove Vineyards

27751 NW Olson Rd, Gaston, OR 97119

August 26 Ponzi Vineyards

19500 SW Mountain Home Rd, Sherwood, OR 97140

September 1 Fiala Farms with Cristom Vineyards

21231 SW Johnson Rd, 97068 West Linn, OR

September 9 Alpacas at Marquam Hill Ranch with Campbell Lane Winery

35835 Oregon 213, Molalla, OR 97038

September 15 Lee Farms with Solena Estate and Coin Toss Brewery

21975 SW 65th Ave, Tualatin, OR 97062

September 16 Rare Plant Research with Tranquil Farms

11900 S Criteser Rd, Oregon City, OR 97045

September 22

Domaine Serene with Dundee Hill Food Forest

6555 N.E. Hilltop Lane, Dayton, OR 97114

September 29

Douglas Farm with Owen Roe and Pitch Dark Chocolate

15330 NW Sauvie Island Rd., Sauvie Island, OR. 97231

October 6 St. Josef’s Estate Vineyards with Marion Acres

28836 S. Barlow Rd, Canby, Oregon 97013

October 13 Willamette Valley Vineyards

8800 Enchanted Way SE, Turner, OR 97392

October 20 Cornell Farm with Stoller Family Estate and House Spirits

8212 SW Barnes Rd, Portland, OR 97225

October 27

Rosse Posse Elk Farm with Erath Winery

32690 S. Mathias Rd, Molalla, OR 97038

November 3 WillaKenzie Estate

19143 NE Laughlin Rd, Yamhill, OR 97148

November 10 Eola Hills Wine Cellars

501 S Pacific Hwy, 99W, Rickreall, OR 97371

November 17

Tumwater Vineyards

375 SW Barrel House Way, West Linn, OR 97068

November 24

Portland Cider Company with Maysara Winery and Goldin Artisan Cheese

8925 SE Jannsen Rd, Clackamas, OR 97015

December 1 Dobbes Family Estate with Green Bison Ranch

240 SE 5th Street, Dundee, OR 97115

December 8 Stoller Family Estate

16161 NE McDougall Rd, Dayton, OR 97114

Categories: Farm to Table
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