RoCA Ex-Chef Heads Dinners

Chef Aaron Holt at the inaugural Dinner at the Barn at Lone Oaks Farm. Photo: Christopher Maharry. For more photos of this event, see the gallery at Maharry Photography.

By Wini Moranville

The most pleasurable local dining experience I’ve had so far this year was held in a barn in Madison County. Chef Aaron Holt—formerly of RoCA and the 2018 Iowa Restaurant Association Chef of the Year—headed up the kitchen for the inaugural Dinner at the Barn at Lone Oaks Farm. As a local food writer, I was invited to attend as Holt’s guest.

Located on an acreage near Winterset and set amid a gently sloped landscape of grasses, wildflowers and timber, the Barn is a circa 1850s structure that’s been beautifully restored as a performance and events venue. Showcasing goods from local farms, Holt’s five-course feast was perfect: infinitely refined, yet Iowa-hearty, it felt exactly right for the time and place. Highlights included pork belly with creamed poblano sweet corn and a gorgeous berry crisp featuring (among other fruits) the woefully underrated mulberry.

Happily, this meal was not just a one-off. The second in the Dinner at the Barn series will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19. Tickets to the bring-your-own-wine event cost $85 (taxes and service included). Check out the menu and get tickets here.

If you aren’t able to attend the next Dinner at the Barn, you can catch Holt at another singular event. On Sunday, Dec. 1, he’ll be the chef for the third event in a four-part Culinary Superhero Series. This fall and winter dinner program is designed to raise funds and awareness for the Justice League of Food, which provides homeless and at-risk youths with job training and placement in the food and beverage industry.

The series also features the work of Joe Tripp (of Harbinger) on Oct. 24 and Sean Wilson (formerly of Proof and now JLF’s director of culinary operations) on Nov. 13 and Jan. 15. Dinners will be held in the raw, unfinished garage space of the Klassroom, which is adjacent to the Hall in West Des Moines. Once finished, the Klassroom will offer apprentices a space to learn life skills and participate in fundraisers, such as pop-up dinners and cooking classes.

Tickets to the Culinary Superhero Series cost $100 and include wine pairings. Get tickets and find out more on Eventbrite.

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