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A Six-Course Comeback After the North Bay Fires

Breaking bread for fire victims at a 504-foot-long table.

The open air supper 


It was two days before Thanksgiving, and 500 people had gathered around one very long table. Nestled between rows of autumnal grapevines, the table—all 504 feet of it—straddled the Napa-Sonoma county line. All in all, a properly picturesque setting for a poignant edition of the roving open-air supper series Outstanding in the Field—this one organized by Visit California to support recovery efforts after October’s devastating fires.

“Cheers to rebuilding!” Tyler Florence, the event’s lead chef, said, walking the length of the table, clinking glasses with first responders and guests who had lost homes or businesses. Dinner came in six courses: turkey with braised carrots in citrus butter, tender brussels sprouts, a winter salad, lamb with roasted cauliflower, squash risotto, and sticky fig cake.

Michael Parmenter, co-owner of VinRoc, who had lost his home, office, and vineyard equipment in the fire, said afterward that it was therapeutic just to be able to talk about what had happened. “Sitting out there on a beautiful day, having wine and wonderful food, talking to people— they were strangers, but we felt a bond.”

It didn’t hurt, either, that the dinner raised nearly $150,000 toward fire recovery.


Originally published in the January issue of San Francisco 

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