Vail’s Sweet Basil restaurant signs on for Oustanding in the Field |

Vail’s Sweet Basil restaurant signs on for Oustanding in the Field

Caramie Schnell
VAIL CO, Colorado
Daily file photo/Dominique Taylor

Ever eaten a four-course dinner in the middle of a field? Not many people have.

Outstanding in the Field, the premiere farm-to-table experience that began in California, returns to Copper Bar Ranch in Edwards July 29. Vail restaurant Sweet Basil is partnering with the Outstanding Crew to put on the dinner.

It’s the third year the bus stops in Eagle County – Larkspur and Avondale chefs participated in 2010 and 2011. This year, Paul Anders, Sweet Basil’s exec chef, will have a chance to roll up his sleeves and orchestrate the magic that it takes to put on a family-style dinner for around 125 people who are seated at one long table in the middle of a field.

“It’s right up our alley,” said Matt Morgan of Sweet Basil, “and the kind of thing our chef is very passionate about. We figured out (July 29) is a date we can do and said ‘let’s do it.’ It was quick and dirty, and knowing what I know about the event and the whole movement, it’s a lot of work, but a terrific opportunity.”

The ranch where it all takes place belongs to the Donovan family, and is run by Vail town councilwoman Kerry Donovan.

“Way up here in the mountains, Kerry has her hairy cows and a high altitude vegetable garden,” according to, where tickets are on sale now for $220 each. “Both Kerry and the cows enjoy the fresh air. Kerry treats her animals well, and it shows; as cows go, these cows are unusually handsome. The forested meadow table site is truly beautiful. On the off chance of rain showers, Kelly has a great open hay barn for the table with a sweet view of the scenery. In the kitchen this year is Chef Paul Anders of the acclaimed Sweet Basil in Vail.”

During the inaugural event, in 2010, Outstanding in the Field director Leah Scafe climbed on a tree stump and told attendees the Outstanding story, weaving a tale about founder and chef Jim Denevan who was inspired by his farmers’ products and created his menus around whatever they could sell him. From there Denevan hosted the first farm dinner with his brother, an organic pear and apple farmer, in California in the late ’90s. Denevan kept expanding within California and eight years ago he bought a vintage 1953 Flexible bus on, named it Outstanding and took the tour national.

“It was evangelistic to start,” Scafe said. “They’d go into a town a week ahead of time and convince people to come and eat in a field.”

At $220 a pop, the tickets aren’t remotely cheap, but this is one dinner where you’re paying for the experience, and the memories, as much as the food and drink.

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