The Agrarian Kitchen currently at Lachlan in Tasmania’s verdant Derwent Valley has rapidly established a reputation as one of the most innovative, yet practical, farm-based cooking schools in Australia. Note that it will soon be moving to New Norfolk next to the Agrarian Kitchen Eatery.
Set on five acres, The Agrarian Kitchen’s vegetable garden and orchard is a treasure trove of heirloom varieties, tended carefully by owners Rodney and Séverine.
The farm also has Barnevelder chickens, Jersey cows, geese, and two Wessex saddleback pigs who gorge on quality leftovers and earn their keep by helping to prepare the vegetable garden and producing piglets, destined for use in future cooking classes.
Former chef and food writer Rodney Dunn, who prior to leaving Sydney was Australian Gourmet Traveller’s food editor, is living the rural dream with wife Séverine Demanet and their two children.
They’ve transformed an historic late 19th century weatherboard school house into a state of the art cooking school without losing any of its charm and are also the proud owners of the last wood fired oven designed by renowned oven maker Alan Scott, who died early in 2009. It’s used for everything from slow roasting meat and drying tomatoes to making bread and pizza and plays an integral role in many classes.
Most of the Agrarian Experience classes are taken by Rodney, who served his apprenticeship with renowned Australian chef Tetsuya Wakuda. His Agrarian Experience classes are inextricably linked with what’s in season in the garden, with participants involved in the selection and harvesting of ingredients as well as cooking them. (You’ll learn about gardening and have practical demonstrations of sustainable living as well as cooking here.)
They also design bespoke classes for groups with a specific interest, often presented by leading local and international experts in the chosen field. Think fermentation courses run by Sandor Katz or the talented Adam James from Rough Rice or cheese courses by international author David Asher or alternatively the local maestros Bruce Kemp and Mickey Short. And what better than to learn how to make real bread from talented local Jay Patey from Pigeon Whole Bakers.
We like the fact that when you go to one of the classes it is more of an experience than a lecture. You will spend your day deeply involved in practical activities rather than listening to lectures or watching demonstrations.
When we attended the Tomato Gluttony class we came away with a box of ‘goodies’ that we had made ourselves or contributed to the making thereof. We staggered out with bottles of passata, tomato paste, green tomato chutney and much more besides! This is exactly the type of learning experience we prefer.
The course program also includes master classes, some taken by guest presenters. Tasmanian born Alistair Wise, former head pastry chef at Gordon Ramsay’s New York restaurant, takes a pastry making master class, and his multi-talented mother Sally, author of a best-selling recipe book A Year in a Bottle, takes a preserving master class.
Also popular is a two day ‘whole hog’ class with local star butcher Marcus Vermey which is based around the despatch and breaking down of a whole pig and then preparation of various products from all parts of that pig.
Classes run on week days and at weekends. You can find their program at The Agrarian Kitchen.
You can also read our story about their fabulous restaurant by clicking on the following link: