on being outstanding

19 Mar

Hiking Runyon last weekend, a friend and I had a long talk about what it takes to make it in the workplace these days. It seems for our generation (and the entertainment industry, especially), the only sure bet for job stability and growth is to be a true innovator. It’s about establishing worth to your company; finding a niche and becoming that niche’s expert. Constantly thinking ahead – not just as a problem solver but as a ground breaker.

Which is hard, terrifying, especially at this entry-level adjacent point we’re at right now. I’m two years into my career, which comes with this true sink or swim moment – move too slowly and you’ll fall behind your peers. But the only way to really break ahead and be meaningful is to create, create, create. Don’t get me wrong – this is an exciting new perspective and it’s opened my mind even just in this past week. It’s also sent me on a search for innovators and tastemakers in other industries, in an effort to learn more about focus and change. And that’s how I happened upon Jim Denevan, a slow artist and founder of Outstanding in the Field. My mind? Blown.

Outstanding in the Field “sets the long table” at farms, in gardens, on mountaintops or in sea caves; on islands and on ranches. Sometimes indoors (a barn, a greenhouse, even a museum), but mostly outside, Outstanding in the Field’s mission is to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.

Founder Jim Denevan started in 1999 with the vision of putting the spotlight on the organic food in his hometown of Santa Cruz. Word quickly spread throughout Northern California, and by 2004 his tour was reaching coast to coast.

In 2009, Jim, his crew (led by field manager Katy Oursler) and an army of servers, farmers/producers and chefs – each team different from place to place – held 54 dinner parties throughout the US and Canada. The 2010 tour schedule goes live tomorrow (March 20) and will likely sell out within the day.

To support Outstanding in the Field and your local chefs and producers, check for your area’s dates here: http://outstandinginthefield.com/

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