Rex Clonts is a fifth-generation farmer who grew up here in Oviedo, a charming town populated by chickens that freely roam the streets. Rex’s grand-dad was the original Big Daddy, who moved his young family to central Florida in 1923 and started out with a plot of celery planted in the rich Black Hammock soil of Seminole County. Today Rex and his wife Denise still grow celery for their neighbors, selling it along with a vast variety of other vegetable crops, from choi sum to purple-topped turnips. Committed to organic agriculture, BigDaddy’s re-certifies their farm every year and regularly tests the soil to monitor fertility, using carefully selected cover crops and no-till farming to rebuild the fields as a vital living ecosystem. Summer is downtime for Florida farmers, but in January, the place will be bustling with energy, and burgeoning fields will give Chef Bruno plenty to work with. Brazilian-born Bruno has lots of experience with improvising, having worked in high-end spots like Normans, taught at Le Cordon Bleu, operated a food truck and captivated central Florida tastebuds with his roving, after-hours Foreigner Experience pop-ups. Now he’s settled into his own brick-and-mortar place, and he’ll bring his omakase menu to BigDaddy’s field.
Sweetwater Organic Community Farm
Chris Kenrick’s six-acre farm in Tampa is beaming with life and overflowing with all sorts of organically grown vegetables and herbs. It’s also home to the area’s oldest-running CSA program and farmer’s market, providing hundreds of Tampa Bay residents with fresh-as-it-gets produce year-round. Chris is a champion of local foodsheds and sustainable agriculture and believes in growing community from the ground up. His community-driven ethos includes farmer apprenticeship programs, hands-on educational workshops, farm tours and events for both children and adults. We’ll celebrate this inspiring work with a feast in their beautiful fields along Sweetwater Creek. Guest chef Eric McHugh spent more than twenty years in Tampa Bay area restaurants, including Hew Parlor at The Fenway Hotel, before helming the pans at Hotel Haya’s famed Flor Fina. He’ll bring us a taste of the restaurant’s unique menu inspired by the Cuban and Latin roots of Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood. Think coconut clam chowder, calamansi ceviche and wood-fired brick chicken with plantains.
Anna Maria Island
This 7-mile stretch of white sand beaches and turquoise waters is spectacularly beautiful and beaming with Old Florida charm. You’ll feel your shoulders relax the moment you arrive here, and once you dig your toes into the silky sand, you may never want to leave. The island’s laid-back lifestyle is one of the reasons we keep coming back. The other is the plethora of fresh seafood and locally grown produce we’re lucky to feast on at the table. And then there’s the views of swimming dolphins and manatees paired with glorious sunsets over the Gulf. This year we are thrilled to welcome Ed Chiles—owner of the Anna Maria restaurant, Sandbar—and his team to the beach kitchen for the third time. Ed’s restaurant Sandbar is known for its seasonal seafood-centric menu sourced from nearby waters and nearby Florida farms. He’ll be joined by four other star chefs from the Chiles Group including Ted Louloudes & Helena Vavrikova of Anna Maria Bake House, Thomas Villetto of Beach House Waterfront Restaurant, and Aaron Kulzer of Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant. Host fisherman Brian Lacey is a good friend of the Chiles restaurant group, supplying them with everything from stone crab to Spanish mackerel to mullet. And farmers Zack Rasmussen & Natasha Ahuja of Gamble Creek Farms provide the vegetables. The three of them will join us at the table to tell us the story of what’s on our plates, while we toast to their hard work with a few glasses of crisp wine on the beach.
An abundance of organic salad greens, tropical fruit trees and pastured hens pecking through lush green fields. This family-run farm provides ample places to dine and an inspiring story to boot. Farmers Marty and Liza Holman use permaculture practices to keep their soil healthy, their crops nutritious, and their ecosystem thriving—which means farming without synthetic herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, and using permanent bed systems to protect the delicate fungal networks and root systems underground. We’ll learn all about their impressive farming system on the farm tour before sitting down at the long table for a delectable four-course feast from guest chef Jason Weiner. This will be our 16th (!) event with Jason, an OITF celebrity known for his hearty seasonal meals and friendly demeanor in the field kitchen.
In 2020, he opened a Palm Beach outpost of his highly acclaimed New York restaurant Almond, quickly linking up with local farmers like the Holmans. Jason joined us at the Holmans’ last winter and cooked up a particularly delicious dessert with Liza and Marty’s star fruit, hibiscus and pink peppercorns. We can’t wait to see what he does for his sweet 16th!
Lake Meadow Naturals
This event marks ten years of long table dinners at this friendly farm of pastured laying hens. After COVID kept us away last year, it’s about time we check in on our old farmer friends Dale and Robert — and see how “the girls” are doing too. Dale and Robert have much to teach about raising pastured birds, and we look forward to learning more from them each time we visit. This year, there’s been talk of setting the table in their newly planted orange grove — which in January, should be exploding with fragrant blossoms and ripe fruit. Guest chefs Alexia & Rhys Gawlak have been a part of the Orlando food scene for over twenty years and are known for seasonal, scratch-made cuisine sourced from local farms. They’ll cook up quite the scrumptious feast in the field kitchen.
This 85-acre organic farm in South Florida grows a huge variety of greens, roots, shoots, fruiting vegetables, flowers and herbs. That’s a lot of pretty places to choose from when it comes to setting the table, and a lot of delectable edibles for guest chef Jeanie Roland to incorporate into the menu. Chef Jeanie has quite the culinary chops, including seven James Beard nominations, and The Perfect Caper is a beloved Gulf Coast institution. We are very excited to see what she whips up in the field kitchen. Before we feast, we’ll enjoy an educational farm tour from farmers Eva and Chris Worden. They hold PhDs in Ecosystem Management and Crop Science (respectively) and are recognized as organic farming experts by the Organic Trade Association and the USDA. It’s our third event with Worden Farm and each time we visit, they have a few new things to teach us on the tour.
This beautiful tropical fruit grove and botanical garden has quite the history in the Florida Keys. Adolf Grimal built Grimal Grove on Big Pine Key in the 1950s, planting a vast assortment of tropical fruit trees and other plants inspired by his travels around the world. Now the grove is under the care of host farmer Patrick Garvey, who’s worked tirelessly to restore the land and reclaim its spirit after years of abandonment. In 2017, the farm was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Irma’s 160mph winds. We put on a benefit to help them recover in 2018, so we are excited to catch up with Patrick and see how things are going. Our guest chef is Shane La Beet of Pepper Pot Island Cafe. Shane is a classically trained chef who works alongside his wife Amy La Beet. Together they infuse their passion for food into the Authentic Caribbean restaurant they own and operate. Bringing all the traditional flavors of Trinidad and other islands to Key West and beyond. We can’t wait to see the menu he dreams up using Grimal Grove’s assortments of tropical fruits, vegetables, and honey.
This family-run permaculture farm outside West Palm Beach is home to 15 acres of organically grown salad greens, vegetables, tropical fruits and a flock of pastured hens. Farmers Marty and Liza Holman care deeply about both their soil and their crops, and focus on growing food without synthetic herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers for local residents and restaurants. Guest chef Jason Weiner is a bit of an OITF celebrity — and quite the chef to boot. He’s cooked up hearty, seasonal feasts at more than ten events over the years. Two years ago, Jason opened an outpost of his beloved New York restaurant Almond in Palm Beach. It’s about time we welcome him to the beach.
Lake Meadow Naturals
A fragrant orange grove, a couple of charming farmers, and a friendly flock of egg-laying fowl. All that plus a meal from guest chefs Albert DeSue and Mike Camacho of Mockingbird to the field kitchen. Mockingbird is known for its progressive and eclectic tasting menus featuring hyperlocal ingredients and inventive takes on Florida cuisine. Think crab salad, Gulf coast oysters, and a smattering of Florida-grown fruits and vegetables — from star fruit to okra to avocados to amaranth. This is bound to be a fun one.
Lush beds of organically grown vegetables, tropical fruit trees heavy with ripe winter fruit, a flock of free-running pastured hens. That’s about as good as it gets. Holman’s Harvest is an inspiring place to spend an afternoon, especially when feasting on a meal sourced with ingredients growing right behind your seat. After a stroll around the farm, we’ll take a seat at the long table set somewhere between their thriving garden beds (or perhaps in the coconut grove?) for a meal showcasing the best of what the farm has to offer from guest chef Niven Patel. Patel was inducted into Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs Class of 2020 for his passion for locally sourced ingredients which serves as the cornerstone of his cooking philosophy at Orno, his latest venture in Miami.