Four of L.A.’s hottest chefs – Max Boonthanakit and Lijo George from Camphor in the Arts District, and Liz Johnson with Will Aghajanian from Horses on Sunset – seamlessly capped off the grand finale of Outstanding in the Field at Coachella on Sunday night, with a sizzling menu of local ingredients.
The California outdoor dining experience founded by artist Jim Denevan in 1999 returned to Coachella for the seventh year, after a two-year hiatus to the polo field’s Rose Garden, with family style dinners that took place on each of the six nights over the two weekends of the music and arts festival.
The dinner led under the joyful supervision and meticulous orchestration in the kitchen by Outstanding in the Field Culinary Liason Matthew Millea, kicked off at sunset with welcome margaritas, followed by Clark Street bread and pork rillette accompanied by market vegetables in seasoned lentil powder. The second course was a flavor-packed smoked salmon layered on a thin cracker with creme fraiche, topped with dressed watercress and served with Vino de los Ranchos chardonnay. That was followed by rigatoni baked with spicy pork sausage and crispy basmati rice, topped with roasted mushrooms that were fired up in enormous paella pans over an open fire and finished with a truffle madeira sauce. The evening ended with a crisp lemon vanilla granita and rice pudding.
“We’ve made it through a challenging time,” Denevan tells L.A. Weekly, in between greeting guests. “But the mood is getting better, the staff is eager to get back at it. We laid off just about everyone and they are all back now. It was a pretty emotional thing. This year, the energy in the kitchen and what people are all about is the continued interest in sourcing and where the food is coming from, and which restaurants are using local produce. The creativity in the kitchen currently is much more non-European.”
Also represented were Coleman Family Farms, County Line Farms, Aziz Farms in Thermal, and a visit from Phil Noble from the nearby Sage Mountain Farms in Anza.
The 2022 tour of Outstanding in the Field will feature 120 events this year across the globe, including the breadth of the U.S., as well as Canada, Europe and Africa. Sunday’s dinner set the linen-draped table for 225 guests that included visitors from Germany and the U.K. In terms of general attendance, it looks like everybody was anxious to get back to Indio. According to Golden Voice, the festival welcomed 750,000 people between both weekends this year. At the last concert in 2019, there were about 97,000 people each day with a total of 582,000 for both weekends.