Here’s the thing about fresh food. It just tastes better outside.
Or maybe, in this case, it tastes good because it IS so fresh. We’re talking fresh off the farm, eaten on the farm fresh, where the fruits and veggies grown there are served there. That’s what happens at Millsap Farms, the latest destination in the Ozarks north of Springfield, MO, when they host Wood-Fired Pizza Night.
It happens every Thursday throughout the summer and early fall, with sell-out crowds and an experience that is hyper-local. Here’s how it works:
You sign up online, well enough in advance to make sure you get in. If storms come up, you risk them cancelling and rebooking you—this is a completely outdoor event, after all. It’s held on the farm, in sight of the greenhouse and farmland, and you are free to look around and see if you can guess the next crop that will be served.
You show up the night of the event, wearing walking shoes. It’s farmland, and parking is in a field. If you were expecting drive through service, you are at the wrong venue.
You pay your $10 per person, find one of the scattered picnic tables or set up your own chairs, pull out your BYOB and get ready to stand in line. Don’t worry, it goes fast. These pizzas cook in two New Mexico style Horno wood-fired earthen ovens, and at 800 degrees, each pizza takes less than two minutes to cook. During the height of the evening, they have four pizzas in each oven at any given time, constantly turning them out onto the buffet table and slicing them for the crowd.
During your wait, you can watch the farm family as they stretch the dough balls and add the toppings. You never know what will be on the evening menu—it could be homemade sausage, wonderfully juicy tomatoes, leeks, kale, Buffalo-sauced chicken, even potatoes. There is always a cheese pizza and no one ever walks away hungry.
The atmosphere is one of conviviality—if you didn’t know the person sharing your picnic table before, just start talking about the pizza and you’ll have a new friend. There is usually a local band (think bluegrass) and the pizza is all you can eat. They plan on one and a half pizzas per person, so you might want to pace yourself and be sure you try all four varieties offered each time!
Millsap Farms is a trend come to life: the farm as community gathering place. It doesn’t hurt that the pizza tastes like coming home to the farm.