Farm Dinner Brings Community Together for Children
Just on the outskirts of the famed golfing community of Pinehurst is Sandy Woods Farm, which plays host to the annual Dining in the Field dinner.
Given by Mark and Kelly Elliott, of Elliott's on Linden, and their team of professionals, the event benefits Sandhills Children's Center.
Earlier this spring, the third annual Dining in the Field began around 5:30 p.m. on a perfect evening in May. Guests were greeted with a refreshing and smooth cocktail made with local strawberries and artful samplings of local and regional ingredients to whet appetites for the main course.
Sounds of the Court Stewart Band set the mood for a relaxing evening where guests could unite with old friends and make new ones, while savoring the aromas of the much anticipated feast being prepared only steps away by Elliott's chefs.
As the call for dinner came, Kelly Elliott invited everyone to come together at the long white tables for the next course of fresh greens and berries topped with chevre from Caramont Farm.
One guest said, "Just the anticipation of walking up to this gorgeous table set for 100 people makes the price tag alone worth every dime."
The staff of Elliott's -continued to serve course after course of the family-style spread, which included bountiful dishes of North Carolina seafood and pork from Canes Creek Farm paired with the chef's version of Southern collard greens.
The daylight gave way to a beautiful sunset and roasting homemade marshmallows for a create-your-own s'more cleverly prepared by guest chef Fiona McKenzie.
Once nightfall had arrived and the guests had departed with contentment, John McKean told the Elliott's team and Children's Center staff, "This is the best one yet. I cannot wait until next year."
Slowly, he made his way up the lawn and disappeared through the doors of Sandy Woods Farm.
Slowing down in life is in direct contrast with the way the world moves today - fast food and fast life. But slowing down is exactly what Mark and Kelly Elliott have in mind when it comes to dining.
"Slow Food" is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. This is a movement around the world to link food producers and purveyors with the pleasure of food and a commitment to community and the environment.
The Elliotts have embraced this movement, and when asked why they endorse this idea of slow food, they replied, "It is about preserving the traditions of food and heritage and supporting our local farmers and artisans."
"We are taking this concept further and asking our community to 'Know Thy Food,' to know what is going in your mouth and your body," said Mark Elliott.
He recalls his childhood and years as an apprentice chef in southeastern England.
"It was necessary to connect with the grocer, the baker, the butcher, the fishmonger and the cheesemaker. Daily sourcing for provisions was a way of life," he said.
The Elliotts are on a crusade to spread this tradition throughout the community and have the support of a passionate and dedicated staff in Elliott's on Linden.
"It takes a lot of ingredients to make a farm dinner. Some of the more important ingredients are people," said Kathy Desmond, of Sandhills Children's Center. > "Farmers work hard throughout the growing season and reap their harvest, and then Mark and the entire dining team transform the harvest with creativity and a respect for ingredients with the intention to give nourishment. Artisans within our community provide the guests with that 'wow' you get when you see your first glimpse of the setting. These are the people that make it all possible."
Through just one dinner, people can get a taste of how a community can unify and sustain itself beautifully, deliciously and in an unforgettable way.
Another guest and supporter of the Children's Center said, "I am all messed up on great food and great company. How lucky are we who get the chance to dine in a restaurant with no walls and open skies and at the same time feel good about the impact we can make on the lives of very special children."
Dining in the Field is about connecting a community to its greatest resources - the earth and its people.
"Mark and Kelly Elliott continue to raise the bar of charitable giving in the Sandhills," said Melanie Gayle, executive director of the Children's Center. "Our young children with special developmental needs reap the benefits of this caring community, and we are grateful to the Elliotts and their friends for this needed support of our mission."
For more than 40 years, the Children's Center has been providing educational and therapeutic services to children with special needs. The center is recognized statewide for its outstanding programs of excellence and its ranking as the second largest developmental day care in North Carolina.
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