For the past several years Chef Pascal Chureau has been building another successful food-centric business stemming from the well-regarded Allium Bistro in West Linn. A single gathering at a winery, Field & Vine emerged as a phenomenally successful dinner series in the countryside. Field & Vine also produces corporate events, weddings and all things catering. What sets Field & Vine apart is the unique dinners that take people to the fields, vineyards and barnyards of farmers in Oregon.
Guests partake in gourmet eating and drinking at the source and from the source. Bountiful family style-dinners are served, reminiscent of days past when celebrations followed barn raisings and harvest. Comfy chairs beckon guests to pull up and tuck in at long tables made pretty with simple flowers and plateware.
Typical blissful peace and quiet calm of farm life is interrupted by the hustle and bustle of tables being set, glasses placed, utensils clinking and the chatter amongst staff gearing up to serve a grand feast. In the makeshift kitchen Pascal gives instruction to those who help with meal preparation for the more than 100 guests en route. No longer a stranger to working in unique, interesting spaces. Pascal scouts the location and sets to work, skillfully preparing for the locavores and foodies ready to embark on adventures most tasty. Raising his head from the task at hand Pascal is quick with his signature smile and willingness to stop and discuss the artful dishes being prepared. His delightful French accent punctuates each sentence and you can’t help but smile with him.
Each meal is different, bursting with the freshest of everything produced locally. A farm tour usually allows wannabe farmers and interested suburbanites a snapshot of the life lived there before being seated at glorious community tables dressed in country style. Their bellies will be pleased and their lungs will get a taste of country air. Conversations often turn to dreams of rural life with big backyards, children laughing, and families who have gathered around the table here. When guests return to the haphazard quilt of the suburbs, the city, and the days stuck in traffic, the farm life lingers as a special memory.
Can you tell me the range of growth from your first Field & Vine Event to the size of your events today?
We started the farm dinners 4 years ago with one dinner in West Linn with a local farmer. Then we added 5 more the second year, 9 the year after that, then another 5. As of today we have 25 dinners starting in May and continuing up to December. We were able to create relationships with farmers, ranchers, brewers and wine makers to provide unique venues for these dinners.
Our goal is to promote agritourism in Oregon and provide a unique experience to our guests by connecting with the places and the people where their food comes from. We donate a portion of our profits to Oregon Farm Loop, a nonprofit organization that promotes agritourism in the state.
When is the first time you cooked outside professionally and not in a full kitchen, what were the biggest challenges, and what did you cook?
Outside in my backyard cooking. It was on the scale of our first Field & Vine Dinner at the farm in West Linn.
What is the most interesting place you have had a Field & Vine Event?
I would say that the Rosse Posse Elk Farm in Molalla was very unique. The event was held in a barn next to the elk and the guests were treated to a tour by the owner. It was a misty evening and the setting was very stunning.
How often do your menus change?
Each menu is different and created based on the weather forecast, fresh local product available and the wines that winemakers choose.
What was your biggest challenge with your Field & Vine Events?
The sudden change of weather. We once finished our setup for our outdoor dining room by the lake at AlexEli Vineyards around 4.30 p.m., and had to move the entire event into the crush pad due to the rain. We were able to make it happen in 20 minutes with some very wet staff members.
What would you say is your biggest professional accomplishment?
I would think that creating and running two companies, a restaurant and an event company, would be it. I could not have done it without my partner Ian Ragsdale and our amazing staff.
At the end of the day what counts?
Happy guests who will remember the dinner as something special, and connecting with our farming community alongside happy staff for a great day cooking outside.