Last year, Westchester County, NY’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns was named the best restaurant in the country. With tables in the middle of a working farm where all the food on the plate is grown, it’s also considered one of the top 15 restaurants in the entire world. Of course reservations are nearly impossible to come by, and when you do, it’s expensive as hell.
Next year, a similar dining experience is coming to the Philly area — at Philly prices — and you can get a preview at a pop-up this month.
On Thursday, Oct. 12, Carol and Barry Savoie of Savoie Organic Farms are hosting a dinner for 50 people in the middle of their picturesque South Jersey estate, 30 minutes outside of the city.
Tables will be set beneath a tent in the middle of a field, with rows of produce swaying on one side and a fire pit on the other, and chef for the evening is Shola Olunloyo of Studiokitchen, who for years was called the city’s “best chef without a restaurant.”
This dinner, which is the first in what’s intended to become a recurring event series next season, is like “the Philly version” of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, per Olunloyo.
(One important distinction: While those NY dinners cost upwards of $400 per person — $258 plus a $148 wine pairing — this one is a BYOB affair for $120 a seat, including tip.)
“The vibrancy of a city is great,” Olunloyo said, “but the ideal is to have a farm, a forward-thinking farm, in your backyard. Talk about closing the gap between farmers and chefs.”
He described what he has planned as being similar to the famed agritourismo dinners of the Italian countryside: “We’re not trying to be a fancy restaurant, we just want to communicate the awesome flavors of the food grown on this land.”
He’ll do that via a multi-course meal (see the full menu below) replete with Savoie ingredients, which are regularly used by some of the city’s best restaurants (Fork, High Street on Market, Will BYOB, Farm & the Fisherman) and which Headhouse Farmers Market shoppers also know well.
All of the vegetables for the dinner will come from the surrounding land — and Olunloyo has a ton of vegetable dishes planned.
They’ll be made into soup, turned into jams, served with house-cultured butter, woven into fresh-pasta lasagna, layered beneath cured Savoie duck eggs, pureed into salsa verde, baked into tartiflette and roasted over an open flame, among other preparations. They’ll be followed by lamb and pork cooked next to the table over a fire scented with Savoie pine cones, and the dinner will finish with multiple Olunloyo-made desserts and locally roasted coffee.
Although this event will likely be the only one of its kind this year, more are planned.
The impetus was the Savoies formally taking over the part of the land lived on by Carol’s dad, Daniel DiMeo, who originally owned the whole estate and recently died.
DiMeo bought the property back in 1955 to raise thoroughbred horses. Well, a single thoroughbred horse, at first. He wasn’t rich by any means, but when he and his brothers were growing up poor in South Philly, they used to make cash by picking produce in the fields of South Jersey. So when the opportunity came up to nab some land of his own, he took it.
Carol grew up in the farmhouse there, but then became a scientist, getting a doctorate in marine biology and biochemistry. She married Barry, a nuclear power plant operator. But one day in their 30s, the couple found the land calling to them.
In 2005 they quit their jobs and dove into creating a fully organic farm.
Thanks to 14-hour days, it flourished, as they established connections with discriminating chefs and customers around the region. And now that DiMeo’s house beside the fields is empty, they’ve come up with this new plan: To outfit the ground floor of the Belgian farmhouse with foot-thick stone walls with a professional kitchen and host regular public dinners on the farm.
So, if you want to get in early on what’s likely to become one of the most talked-about dining destinations, pick up your ticket here.
Savoie Organic Farm Dinner
October 12, 2017
Chef Shola Olunloyo
Butternut Squash Soup. Miso Glazed Apples . Maple
Vegetables from the farm
Young Heads of Lettuce. Green Goddess Dressing
Raw Breakfast Radishes. Koji Cultured Butter
Burnt Eggplant. Mint. Roasted garlic. Tahini
Wood Fired Jimmy Nardello Peppers . Flowering Marjoram
Young Escarole. Bagna Cauda . Parmesan . Anchovies . Cured Duck Egg Yolks
Roasted Delicata Squash . Fermented Basil Honey
Raw Harukei Turnips . Buttermilk and Lemon.
Young Celery and Oranges . Orange Flower Water
Savoie Farm Arugula. Roasted Grapes . Vincotto . Lemon
Kennebec Potato Salad
Savoie Farm Swiss Chard Lasagna . Mountain Magic Tomatoes . Smoked Parmesan Cheese
Wood Roasted Lamb Leg
Anise Hyssop Jus
Roast Pork Shoulder
Nasturtium Salsa Verde
Onaway Potato Tartiflette
Spinach Creamed in its Juice
Pickled Green Tomatoes
Red Onion and Raspberry Confiture
Fermented Calabrian Chili Oil