If you were hoping to snag a ticket to the Sept. 2 Field to Fork Dinner at SIW Vegetables in Chadds Ford, you’re out of luck.
The event—which will showcase Chef Liz Sempervive of the Millstone Café at the Brandywine River Museum of Art—is sold out.
Fortunately, there are still tickets available for other dinners in the series, which ends on Oct. 21. But because the events are so popular, you should purchase them soon.
What’s the appeal?
“To hold a dinner that is specifically devoted to local produce in the place where it’s grown just brings home the message about the importance of natural food and eating food at the peak of freshness,” said Dan Butler of Piccolina Toscana, the featured chef on Sept. 16.
The series format will share many of the similarities as those in the past. Guests will savor a multi-course meal made by a well-known chef in a distinctive setting.
But SIW has made changes to encourage social distancing.
Back to nature
Located on a scenic bend on South Creek Road (Route 100), Hill Girt Farm has been holding the on-site events for more than 10 years.
“It’s come a long way,” said Joyce Powers, director of marketing for SIW, which stands for “Stepped in What?”
Recent improvements include lighting, fans and structural work on the barn, parts of which date back to the 1660s. Rustic farm tables replaced folding tables, and chefs now use linens and china.
There is something romantic about dining in the spacious barn, whose open doors frame a midnight blue sky. Tiny fairy lights at the entrance playfully compete with the stars.
In the past, the family-style service was part of the appeal. Guests struck up conversations with strangers as they passed the salmon or the vegetables harvested that day.
“The dinners are more than the food—it’s about the farm, the friendships that I have made over the years of doing them and, most importantly, the produce I get to work with,” said Dan Tagle, executive chef of Krazy Kat’s, who will cook on Sept. 30.
H.G. Haskell III, whose father purchased the farm in 1910, grows more than 50 different types of vegetables and hundreds of varieties on 50 acres. He often introduces farmworkers and talks about the process of bringing the guests’ food to the table.
This year, SIW partnered with sommelier Sam Anderson, who recently moved to the Brandywine Valley from New York. Anderson owns Ouro Wine Selections, which imports natural wines made in organic wineries.
The sommelier, who worked in James Beard award-winning restaurants, is curating a selection natural wines to complement each dinner and chef’s perspective. They are available at Swigg, which is in Independence Mall in Wilmington.
The dinner series usually starts in July, so it was not affected by coronavirus-related shutdowns earlier this year. The first event, however, was rained out due to a severe storm.
The dinners traditionally max out at 100. SIW has reduced the number of seats and uses the lawn as well as the barn.
Two couples might share a 6-foot table, but they sit at each end, with no one in between. While the dinners are still family-style, you’ll only be passing the dishes to those in your party.
Admittedly, the new process means extra work for the chefs—and it was not an easy endeavor during pre-COVID times.
“To produce 90-plus meals with a grill and not much else is a pretty powerful feat,” Tagle noted.
But he, Butler and other chefs are willing to make the adjustments. For Tagle, the farm has special meaning; he wed wife Gabrielle there in 2019.
“They love what they do, and they love what we do—that keeps bringing chefs back,” Powers said.
For information, go to siw-vegetables.blogspot.com/p/field-to-fork-dinners-2020.html.