Fish & Game, Hudson Summer Event 2018

Play with Fire is a celebration of food, drink, music and just being outside

First, you roll down a gravel driveway under a canopy of trees. Then you walk through a swamp, over a curving wooden footbridge, into a pine grove covered with wildflowers. There, you find massive sculptures and people cooking over open fire, eating happily and listening to music. It's part Twilight, part Woodstock, part Stranger Things and entirely Zak Pelaccio.

Well, Pelaccio and a crew of top chefs, mixologists and an incredible sculptor. Back on Saturday, August 11 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Fish & Game Farm for the second time is Play with Fire, and it's the best possible reason to cut out of the city for the day.

Pelaccio is the chef at Fish & Game, a renowned oasis of a restaurant in Hudson, New York, and the event is an all-day celebration of live fire, whole-animal cooking, world-class chefs and impressive sculptures. The first iteration happened back in 2014, and now it's back ("people kept asking me to do it again," he says) with larger-than-life sculptures from Hudson Valley artist (and Pelaccio's friend) Kris Perry.

Though the two have done smaller collaborations in the past, it's nothing like the scale of this event, which takes place on the restaurant's 170-acre farm. Each sculpture houses a cooking apparatus for a chef in the power lineup—think Victoria Blamey, Sam Mason from Oddfellows Ice Cream, the Four Horsemen chef—and each chef will have a signature live-fire dish. There'll be grilled cucumber salad from Estela's Ignacio Mattos, pane griglia with ricotta, zucchini and basil from the King duo and many more—plus drinks from both the Broken Shaker team and the Cosme/ATLA beverage director.

Photo: Kris Perry

You'll also be doing some good while you have a good time—proceeds will help benefit The Heirloom Foundation, the Charleston-based nonprofit that helps improve quality of life for hospitality employees. "This has been a strange year with friends and family members who have dealt with bouts of depression," Pelaccio says, explaining how he's drawn to the foundation's broad wellness approach. "It's not specific to treatment; they make it sustainable and nurturing on a long term basis," he says. His passion for the issue is clear, as he touches on how The Heirloom Foundation improves the kitchen and restaurant community by paying a living wage, investing in different charities, helping to fund research projects, and more.

Stick around until the end of the night to catch the giant bonfire, complete with flaming hoop dancers and live electro-psychedelic music. This isn't the 1960s, it's just what life is like when you escape the city for a day.