FIELD NOTES: Let’s Talk Business…
A little slice of life on the road through the eyes of tour crew members.
Written by: Ariel Knoebel
Photos by: Austin Daly
Let’s Talk Business…
There’s a moment at dinner, after opening remarks have been said and the farm tour walked, all the guests have been seated and greeted and poured wine and served their first course, when I sneak away – to go to the bathroom.
Stay with me!
I know it seems unconventional to talk to you quite so personally; and yes, there is some practical purpose to this (hydration is important on event day), but the bathroom trip is truly one of my favorite parts of the night. The cheerful, rolling chatter of the table fades away as you walk – sometimes a little farther than you may expect – down the path or around the corner or up some steps and across the yard – to the sweet little beige bathroom trailer tucked in a beautiful nook all its own. Suddenly, it’s quiet. Peaceful. A strong contrast from the boisterous crowd just minutes away. You may hear birds chatter, or notice the breeze in the trees, or finally catch the scent of the nearby dill plants wafting through the air. At Big Sur, a site full of breathtaking views in every direction, the view from the bathroom is my favorite of them all, because it’s the spot you have a chance to actually take it all in. That giddy, delicious, breathless feeling that follows most of the event gives way to a true sense of awe, a chance to really commune with the sense of a place.
Sometimes, the bathroom isn’t set on a cliffside with a view of the ocean, but somewhere a bit more mundane. Regardless, the walk to it is always a chance to capture that moment, for the wonder of the day to soak in like a soothing balm on sunwarmed skin. In more ways than one, it is an absolutely integral part of the evening.
“Regardless, the walk to it is always a chance to capture that moment, for the wonder of the day to soak in like a soothing balm on sun-warmed skin. In more ways than one, it is an absolutely integral part of the evening.”
If you are a longtime guest of Outstanding in the Field, however, you may remember a very different bathroom experience.
“The only complaint that I heard consistently on tour that we couldn’t take care of during the events was about the porta potties.” Austin Daly, who was on tour crew in 2018, spent the season trying to elevate the bathroom experience despite the fact that our restrooms were a far cry from the current situation. They were, in fact, porta potties.
After buying lights and fans to make them more comfortable, picking flowers to dress them up and arranging them into a perfect semi circle on top of the mountain in Big Sur, Austin knew there had to be a better way. While driving his teammates across the country, he scheduled conversations with several luxury trailer builders, and he went into business. Daylee Business.
Since then, Austin has followed our tour crew in his own truck, bringing his thoughtfully designed, lovingly maintained restroom trailers to almost every event. He tows them across ridgelines, through ravines, and along beach boardwalks. He walks the site, scouts the best locations (where they are subtly seen, not in the way, but not too far out of the way, and easy to access from both sides) and moves them between reception and seating to make sure they are always close by. In short, he creates an Outstanding restroom experience.
Austin is an outlier in our crew structure; not on tour crew, but not quite a satellite either. Having been on tour crew, he finds the independence exciting. “I’m the only person I’m technically responsible for.” He says, “I can map out if I want to go to this state park or national park. I’m touring BBQ places. I want to go meet up with my friend here or go to the beach and swim. It is definitely a really cool way to run a business and get paid to, in essence, travel the country and speak to farmers and chefs and producers, even other staff.”
After five years of being on tour, in one way or another, he is looking towards the next steps of his career. On his current travels across the Southern United States with our Winter Tour crew, he is doing some major research and development for a new trailer-based business, Florida Man BBQ. Austin explains, “to now be starting on this new venture, to take everything that I’ve learned and inherited, all of the knowledge that I’ve gained from being around all of these super cool chefs and farmers, picking up on what they do or how they do it, I’ve gained so much inspiration.” He hopes to pass the opportunity for this type of enriching experience onto others as he transitions out of his role on tour. “My goal is to hire people and pay them a good wage to do a good job and hopefully then set them up financially for something that they want to do,” Austin says. “That’s what you’re supposed to do as a business owner.”
As with so many things, a powerful mission is inspiring, but what I love about these bathrooms is that they are simply very nice. They are air conditioned (heated when they need to be). The lighting is perfect for a pre-event selfie in the mirror. The signs to direct you to them are painted to match the style of our Outstanding in the Field dinner signs, so that they blend seamlessly into the rest of the event. Finally, they are full of countless thoughtful details: The True Green toilet paper is woman (and fellow Floridian) owned and made from bamboo and sugarcane (both highly renewable fiber crops), the paper towels are 100% recycled materials, the soap is all sourced from a certified B corp, and the essential oil sprays are pure Florida grapefruit and Oregon spearmint. Dried flowers decorate each stall, picked from our partner farms – a small nod to the old days of Outstanding bathrooms.
Often at our events, I have to convince people that they should take the trip to the bathroom. They always come back to tell me how wonderful they are. I am here to put it in writing, even if it feels a little bit far, it will be worth the walk. If you really want, take a selfie while you’re in there, and share it with us. Whatever you do, don’t forget to take a minute to take in the view.