I often start my classes at The Agrarian Kitchen by saying “I like to cook, because I like to eat”. As a food tragic for me it is that next rush of flavour I crave. After eating in the best restaurants in this country and indeed around the world, as Food Editor of Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine, the only logical step seemed to be to go back…back to the source, back to the earth, for this is where all flavour begins.
It became blindingly obvious to me, after my first feeble attempts at gardening, that what mother nature achieved in the flavour department could not be surpassed by man. My job was to respect it, not stuff it up by messing around with it too much, therefore I find the food I cook getting simpler, relying on harmonious marriages of flavour, balancing the work done in the garden with the work done in the kitchen.
It is wonderfully refreshing now living a life closely linked with the seasons and the weather. What we are growing, cooking and eating is like a marker of time from one year to the next as one season fleets you are looking forward to the next, whether it is the asparagus and artichokes of spring, the tomatoes, corn and eggplant of summer, the wild mushrooms of autumn, or the intensely flavoured root vegetables and sweet brassicas of winter that make up the wonderful tapestry of our world.
It is a little sad to think that one of the great pleasures in my life now is receiving the next instalment of seed catalogue and taking it to bed with anticipation of what new things can be grown in the garden.
Above all of this, food has the most meaning when it is shared and it is because of this that we chose to share The Agrarian Kitchen with the general public. It is no different to seeing the pleasure gained by others when eating a meal cooked by yourself.
For me taking people into the garden and seeing light bulbs erupt as they taste lovage for the first time or the expressions as a ripe raspberry explodes in their mouth. I myself crave inspiration around me so we love to serve in some small part as the providers of inspiration.
I would love to think our book helps with this cause, as with our philosophy it follows the seasons, with all the fruit and vegetables coming from the garden. Enjoy.
by Rodney Dunn
When former Australian Gourmet Traveller food editor Rodney Dunn moved from Sydney to Tasmania, he and his wife Severine set about transforming a nineteenth-century schoolhouse into a sustainable farm-based cooking school.
Nestled in a misty valley outside Hobart, The Agrarian Kitchen struck a chord with people seeking respite from fast-paced lives and a meaningful connection with the food we eat and the land that produces it.
This collection of recipes from the phenomenally popular cooking school celebrates the simple pleasures of cooking and eating in tune with the seasons, and the rhythm of a life lived close to the earth.