When was the last time you found yourself inside an old Ella Fitzgerald song… with stars shining bright above you, night breezes whispering, and birds singing in a walnut tree? Nick Peyton invites you to “dream a little dream” at the upcoming Farm to Feast ® scholarship raising event on May 14, 2011.
Mr. Peyton, owner and maître’d extraordinaire of Healdsburg’s two-Michelin-Star Cyrus Restaurant, will greet you warmly as the sun sets on the picturesque 38-acre Summerfield Waldorf School and Farm. Later, he’ll shepherd you through an adeptly orchestrated event designed to leave you thinking food is art and dining is an experience. The stars will fade, but still you’ll linger on…
Under the Walnut Tree
Farm to Feast® features world-class chefs crafting a meal that is only matched by the ambiance of dining under a majestic 100-year-old walnut tree on Summerfield’s expansive, working biodynamic farm in rural Santa Rosa. Guests enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding pastures, lagunas, fruit trees and vines, which come alive with grazing farm animals, birds, and other abounding wildlife.
An integral part of the school’s curriculum is a 38-acre campus with 15 acres that have been biodynamically farmed for 30 years and certified Demeter Biodynamic® since 2003. This farm is one of only 100 such farms in the United States.
All students participate in weekly time on the farm. The children engage in seasonal activities such as pruning or planting, as well as animal husbandry tasks such as feeding the cows, chickens, ducks, and bunnies.
Dana Revallo, Summerfield’s farmer, will work with students to harvest food for the dinner. Together they will gather eggs, milk the cow, and harvest tender greens, peas and hopefully the season’s first strawberries.
“It is an incredible event because it is authentically all about a sense of place,” says Chef Duskie Estes. “The food comes right from the Summerfield Farm and is then prepared by rock-star chefs. You want a spot at this table.”
Local Food Prepared by Internationally Known Chefs
“Farm to Feast is a fabulous event,” said Peyton. “Where else can you be on a biodynamic farm, have a meal that is made fresh from that farm, and be served by top chefs from San Francisco and Sonoma County?”
The event features a multi-course dinner prepared by internationally known chefs. Chef/co-owner Traci Des Jardins of San Francisco’s Jardinière will be joined by Sonoma County chefs/restaurateurs John Stewart and Duskie Estes of Zazu and Bovolo. (You may recognize Des Jardins from her appearance on Bravo TV’s Top Chef Masters or Estes who was a candidate in Season Three of The Next Iron Chef on Food Network.) Pastry Chef Patricia Taan of the Michelin-Star Farmhouse Inn in Forestville will prepare desserts.
When pressed to reveal this year’s menu, Stewart said, “The driving factor is what is available at that time of year. We won’t know until it gets closer, but it’s very serious food served casually… just like our restaurants.”
Feast for the Senses
Not only is your feast conscientiously sourced from a biodynamic farm and prepared with local expertise, Mr. Peyton promises to serve it up with 2-star restaurant skill and flair. Nick Peyton orchestrates a guest-centric service dance, which reveals each course in a coordinated procession. Looking for cues from the tables such as lulls in conversations or utensils resting on plates, Mr. Peyton alerts the chefs and wait staff to ready courses.
Plates are prepared in groups, allowing the wait staff to team up, gather a plate in each hand, and simultaneously approach a table.
Walking in what Nick Peyton describes as a centipede formation, the servers wind gracefully around the table’s contour, then each gently set one plate in front of each guest. Mr. Peyton then directs the group to take one step to the right. Again the wait staff moves as one to rest the second series of plates in front of guests. In this way, the entire table can begin enjoying each course at the same moment.
“It’s these subtle measures that create a sense of flow and maintain a dynamic energy,” says Mr. Peyton reverently. The beautiful setting, the farm-to-table food , and the dance of the servers culminate in a true feast for the senses.
While you may forget about the rest of the world during this event, Nick Peyton’s goal is to make your experience unforgettable. In fact, his aim is to inspire you to want to deepen your relationship with the school and farm setting contributing to your evening.
Support Summerfield Waldorf School and Farm
“The farm setting is what first brought me to Summerfield,” explains Nick Peyton. Having just given up city living in San Francisco, Nick and Karla Peyton visited Summerfield as Sonoma County’s unique school with a working farm on its campus.
“Our daughter walked onto the school grounds and was immediately greeted by other children. They gave her a bucket, took her by the hand, and off they ran to pick broccoli flowers to feed to the chickens. Then we gathered eggs…”
The couple craved the romantic picture of their kindergarten-aged daughter enveloped in an education with a rural backdrop. Their daughter eagerly wanted to return to her new friends and the farm.
While it was the farm that initially drew the Peyton family, the value of the Waldorf educational philosophies quickly surfaced. Mr. Peyton says he’s impressed by the way the curriculum meets the development of the child and encourages a love for learning that goes beyond the walls of the classroom. ”The children participate deeply. They cut up vegetables for their lunch-time soup, they grind the grain for their bread.”
“When I watch Hannah (at home), I see her wanting to read. When it’s time for stories before bed, she says ‘I’ll read you a book – don’t read to me, Daddy.’ When she learned to write, she quickly announced, ‘I want to write a book.’ She sits and sings math puzzle songs – it is truly a part of her life. It’s not school homework. It’s integrated into her whole life.”
Nick and Karla Peyton immediately lent their support and expertise to the school by helping to create the first Farm to Feast® event four years ago. This annual scholarship benefit for Summerfield Waldorf School and Farm helps support 35% of students who receive scholarship assistance, amounting to almost $700,000 annually.
“This is a private school largely supported by school families rich in passion and commitment rather than monetary wealth. Paying tuition is a struggle for many families, but they find ways to sacrifice or shift priorities,” explains Mr. Peyton.
Parents dream of realizing Summerfield’s goal to “support the growth of social awareness, active tolerance and living harmoniously with the environment.”
Participating in Farm to Feast is a philanthropic opportunity for local environmental enthusiasts, educational activists, business owners and parents. Join a growing group of community-wide supporters in sustaining a school with a setting that connects education and earth, and a format where learning is applied and ingrained.
Summerfield Waldorf School and Farm was founded in Santa Rosa in 1974. It provides a Waldorf-based education for children from early childhood through high school. Summerfield Waldorf School and Farm is a 501c (3) non-profit corporation.
Make Your Reservation Now
Place your name on the guest list today to share in the dream. More information is available via www.farmtofeast.org or 707.575.7194 ext 105.
May 14, 2011
4:00 start time
600 Willowside Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401