We've all heard of farm-to-table dining, but when your meal is actually prepared and served on a farm, there's no truer definition. That will be the case on Saturday, November 5, when Kai-Kai Farm launches a new dinner series dubbed the Fall Harvest Feast.
The 40-acre farm is located about 30 minutes north of West Palm Beach in Martin County's Indiantown. Here, owners Carl Frost and Diane Cordeau have been growing a number of niche vegetables since they started farming in 2003. While crops change according to season, Cordeau — who does most of the planting and tending to the crops by hand — is today known as the "queen of lettuce" thanks to the dozens of varieties she produces.
In the past few years, the farm has hosted a number of signature dinner events held at the property's covered open-air pavilion. While they've attracted many well-known area chefs, Cordeau says she's decided to use the Fall Harvest Feast as a special "thank you" to several Palm Beach County chefs that regularly use Kai-Kai Farm produce.
The Fall Harvest Feast will launch with Café Boulud executive chef Rick Mace, who signed on to host the farm's premiere event taking place November 5.
The dinner, he says, is one that's close to his heart. A chef who is committed to supporting local farms, he uses Kai-Kai Farm to provide vegetables for Café Boulud year round.
"It sounds good for restaurants to say they work directly with a farm, but here [at Café Boulud] I've been working with Kai-Kai for a long time. In fact, this will be my fourth season working with Diane and Carl," said Mace during a recent interview. "Kai-Kai is special because it's the only farm we work with that continues production in the summer months, which gives us the ability to work with her year-round."
For an autumn theme, Mace's menu for the five-course meal will feature Daniel Boulud's stuffed pumpkin with gruyère and bacon; grilled mahi with sweet-and-sour eggplant; and wood-roasted farm chicken with okra. Each course will exclusively use Kai-Kai Farm produce and will be paired with wine.
"The overall quality [of the produce] is the biggest draw for us, but when it comes to particular items, I can't get enough of her signature broccolini," said Mace, who will often build seasonal dishes based on what's available from Kai-Kai Farm. "And Kai-Kai's black eyed peas and okra can be found on our menu year-round.
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"In the restaurant, I always have a chance to showcase her product to make it a talking point within the context of our menu, whether that be a green salad that uses just Kai-Kai greens or a seasonal side dish," said Mace. "But for the farm dinner, nothing beats cooking in that type of al-fresco setting with fresh-picked produce."
Due to the intimacy of the evening, tickets cost $100 per person and are limited to no more than 100 guests. They can be purchased at the farm's vendor booth at the West Palm Beach Green Market or by calling Kai-Kai Farm.
Kai-Kai Farm. 8006 SW Kanner Hwy., Indiantown; 772-597-1717; kaikaifarm.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.