Sheila Youngblood welcomes all to sit at her table under the big Texas sky.
Feast in the Field
March 26 and 27
When owner Sheila Youngblood opened Rancho Pillow to the public in the spring of 2016 during the Antiques Fair, she welcomed all to sit at her table for the first Feast in the Field.
“I thought it would be a wonderful way to introduce people to the property for the first time, taking tours, telling stories and connecting over a home-cooked meal under the stars, as I would with my own family,” she says.
More than a meal, it’s a feast for the senses too. Arriving at the 20-acre, technicolor compound, it’s more of a fantasy retreat than boutique hotel. It’s spacious and secluded with plenty of room to wander and to dream. There’s something imaginative, artful and fun everywhere you look – neon signs, a teepee, the large three-story Dutch barn filled with antiques, collectibles, books of poetry, bongos and cowboy hats; there’s the “Love Shack,” “Red House, “Tower House,” a bathhouse, swimming pool and fire pit. Getting the lay of the land, drink in hand, there’s this kind of cool, calm, communal vibe that wraps itself around you like a Mexican blanket. The guests you meet there; they get it too. It’s a feeling of finding your people when you didn’t even realize you were looking for them.
Then there’s the food. For the upcoming feasts, Sheila has selected San Antonio chef Steve McHugh of Cured at Pearl restaurant to prepare the meal on March 26 and, the following evening, on March 27, New Orleans chefs Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus, of Coquette, will do the honors.
"The menu is completely up to the chefs. I only ask that one part of the meal is prepared over an open fire in the field,” Sheila says.
“[We’ve had] paellas in giant pans, chickens roasting in the wood-fired oven on wheels, whole pigs on a spit, vegetables on a grill over a small ground fire, pineapples hanging on a Frances Mallmann-style cooking dome. Our guests love interacting with the chefs doing what they love and being with them in beautiful country in a place full of heart. Every chef impacts people in meaningful ways, and it is lovely to see.”
When it comes to the table, true to Sheila’s nature, every detail is thoughtful, intentional and arranged with love. Prepared for 100 guests, the place settings include mismatched china, flatware, glasses and jars in all colors. Bright florals and flickering candles add to the ambiance.
How the evening unfolds: The gate opens at 5 p.m. Guests are invited to a welcome cocktail and are encouraged to roam the property, sharing stories from their day. The bar opens; the wine flows and light bites are brought out from the kitchen and passed around the party. As the sun begins to set, guests make their way to the table. Dinner is served family-style with multiple mains and sides. Some folks leave after dessert while others shuffle over to the fire pit where guitars come out and intimate conversations strike up.
“Rancho is about celebrating authenticity,” Sheila says. “I invite our guests to connect with one another in a deeper way. Connecting, sharing, laughing, inspiring – and deeply listening. We discover more about each other (and ourselves) that way.”
For tickets to Feast in the Field, visit RanchoPillow.com. Tickets will sell out, so make sure to follow @ranchopillow on Instagram for other opportunities like pizza pop-ups on the property during the Antiques Fair.