The Agrarian Kitchen. How lucky was I to get in!
It has been a while, but still fresh in my memory. While we were on holiday in Tassie (Tasmania for all non-Aussies) I spent a day of cooking at The Agrarian Kitchen. Now this is not just your ordinary cooking school. It is quite a special one (will get into that of course) and foodies cross the water from Melbourne (or fly in from anywhere) to do a day or a couple of days of cooking.
What’s so special about The Agrarian Kitchen is that it is a farm-based cooking school; you cook from paddock-to-plate, which means you’ll go out in the 5 acres big garden, get your veg, herbs, fruits, milk from the goat, eggs from the hens and go back into the beautiful kitchen to cook it. It is set in a former schoolhouse which is beautifully transformed by former food editor of Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine, Rodney Dunn and his wife Severine Demanet.
Not only the whole paddock-to-plate experience is what makes it so special; you get your hands in the dirt, feel the produce, smell it, taste it, clean it and finally, cook it. The philosophy of Dunn and his wife is what’s behind The Agrarian Kitchen, and to me that’s what made the whole experience remarkable. It is to reconnect the kitchen with the land. It is to practice sustainable farming with as little input from the outside as possible. It is to practice organic farming. And it is to recreate the agrarian system as it used to be which was subsistence farming; farmers grew a range of food crops and animals that complemented each other to provide food for their families and local community.
It is when you’re out in the gardens with Rodney Dunn who walks you through it, explains the philosophy, shows you the plants, trees, lets you smell and taste the herbs, when you feel the warm udders of the goat to milk it, when the magic starts to happen. And it continues when you’re cooking in the gorgeous kitchen and it slowly comes together. When you taste the food you have harvested and cooked in the cosy dining room, it goes on. And when you go home at the end of the day and you need some time to let it all sink in, you know you have cooked in quite a special cooking school.
If you plan to go to Tassie, book ahead because they are full months ahead. It was only magic that allowed me to get in.