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The Sunset Agreed

Article by Christian Owen

Photography by Sarah Bell, Sélavie Photography

Originally published in River City Lifestyle

There are seasons in the South when, if the temperate yet fickle climate cooperates and the local community is engaged, an outdoor setting provides unmatched potential for hosting a distinctive mosaic of flowers, food, entertainment and joy. At one such event in an agrarian setting just south of Memphis, even the sunset agreed.

Preparing for the event, an engagement party in the Mississippi Delta, required attention to detail as well as an informed selection of local vendors who were invited to showcase their finest products and services. This focus on quality was seen at all stages of choreography, from fresh flowers to the custom menu. 

 

The Setting

Our first call was to Outstanding in the Field, a firm that describes themselves as “a roving restaurant without walls.” Their mission is “to connect diners to the land while celebrating the hardworking hands that feed us.” They fulfull this mission with both ticketed and private events across the country and abroad. From vineyards to farms to beaches and meadows, even city streets, this company has elevated the local dining concept to an artform. Commonly, the company sets one long table, which creates more of an intimate dining experience in contrast to banquets where guests are separated at several smaller tables.

Outstanding in the Field enjoys working closely with selected chefs and caterers to make sure everything on the menu is special and sustainable. Then they educate diners about what they’re eating and why, which adds to the experience of each traveling celebration.

A pivotal amenity of this Outstanding in the Field soirée was the heightened use of florals. Arrangements were provided by Le Fleur, a family-owned and -operated design firm in the Memphis area. Le Fleur owner Kevin Coble turned a traditional, rural setting into a festive masterpiece that was monumental in scale and bursting with all the colors of that evening's sunset.

Kevin has been part of the floral design world for more than 35 years, began his own business in 1993, and was inducted into the American Institute of Floral Designers in 2000. While he and his Le Fleur team provide bouquets and gifts for any occasion, Kevin’s true passion is creating imaginative displays for large-scale celebrations.

The Performance

Top culinary talent from across the region presented an unforgettable evening of elegant food and general festivities. Guests enjoyed live music, fine wine and beer, complemented by upscale transportation to and from nearby Memphis with Guardian Concierge.

The menu is a vital part of any successful dinner party, especially in the South where hallmark foods and beverages define the hospitable culture.

Outstanding in the Field worked closely with Cole Jeanes, a personal chef, consultant, and owner of Jeanes Hospitality. Chef Jeanes trained in the Memphis area and has worked at many of the Midsouth's finest restaurants. He’s mastered classic cooking techniques but also loves branching out to explore different tastes. Cole emphasizes working with and featuring local farmers and specialty food producers.

When preparing the menu for this night, Chef Jeanes wove in local delicacies and unique ingredients, all of which were accompanied by recommended beer pairings from Memphis’ Wiseacre Brewing.

  • Smoked and fried catfish brandade with remoulade
  • Bacon-wrapped dates with Bonnie Blue Farm goat cheese and Brussel’s Bonsai Honey (conveniently harvested from the event venue’s backyard)
  • Fried Rose Creek Farms green tomatoes, pimento cheese and pickled okra
  • ‘The Lord’s Egg,’ a delightful combination of Home Place Pastures' eggs with mortadella, and Kelley’s Katch Caviar
  • Curry Avenue Produce watermelon gazpacho with basil oil
  • Fishers Orchard grilled peach bruschetta salad with dandelion greens, Brussel’s Bonsai honey and cornbread crumb (Wiseacre Brewing pairing: Sun Bump Belgian)
  • Fried Marmilu Farms chicken hoecakes with bourbon maple syrup and roasted 446 Farms sweet potatoes (Wiseacre Brewing pairing: Tiny Bomb American pilsner)  
  • Grilled Marmilu Farms lamb chops with roasted Rose Creek Farms carrots and quinoa, plus mint chimichurri (Wiseacre Brewing pairing: Moon Biscuits amber ale)
  • For dessert, Heaton pecan pie featuring George Dickel bourbon, chocolate, whipped cream and Brussel’s Bonsai honey (Wiseacre Brewing pairing: Dr. Gibbler Helles and Air Bath IPA)

Liquor was supplied by Joe’s Wines and Liquors in Memphis. Of special note was the inclusion of George Dickel Bourbon, to which the hosting family shares a past connection. Another regional favorite, the Brandy Alexander, was also a dessert option.

Great Wines & Spirits of Memphis provided a selection of fine wines. The recommended red for this occasion was Mas de Gourgonnier, which is a fresh and bright blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon from Les Baux de Provence. The selected white was the 2021 Domaine Roger Neveu, from Sancerre, France. This light, fresh selection has popular grapefruit tones. The rosé was supplied by a 2022 Weingut Beurer Rose Trocken, from Germany’s Schwäbischer Landwein. Guests said the beautiful, medium pink rosé tasted like cherries and rose water and smelled like candied roses.  

The Riggs Entertainment agency helped secure the Elmo and Lester Duo, two recognizable musicians from the Memphis area who specialize in playing the blues, classic rock and a mix of both high-energy and subdued selections to match each turn of the party with a compatible mood.

 

The Finale

As the evening ended and guests listened to Elmo and Lester’s final sounds, lingering dialogues among friends and family continued. Elegant outdoor lighting designed by Bill Taylor of Outdoor Lighting Concepts encouraged carefree conversation and a nightcap for some.

The table was cleared, and chirping sounds heard only in a countryside setting replaced the excitement of the day. What indefinitely remains in the end is the fond memory of friends coming together to toast an upcoming wedding, savor local flavors and applaud what was truly a stunning sunset. 

Outstanding in the Field is a firm that describes themselves as “a roving restaurant without walls.” Their mission is “to connect diners to the land while celebrating the hardworking hands that feed us.”

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