Rodney Dunn and Séverine Demanet took a risk when they moved from Sydney to the Derwent Valley, 30 minutes out of Hobart, to open a cooking school. But 14 years on, it’s paid off – big time. The Agrarian Kitchen is one of Australia’s most renowned cooking schools, responsible for teaching hundreds of visitors skills like butchery, cheesemaking, preserving, fermenting and pasta-making. People travel from all over the country to learn there.
Now comes the next chapter, due later this year. Dunn and Demanet are in the process of moving the cooking school out of its original location – the property they and their two kids call home. It’s headed for Willow Court, an expansive complex 10 minutes down the road that already holds destination restaurant the Agrarian Kitchen Eatery, plus the takeaway-driven Kiosk out front.
“We’ve taken everything we’ve learnt over the past 15 years, and what annoyed us,” Dunn told Broadsheet recently, “to create this larger space that’s purpose built for hands-on classes.”
Up to 12 students will work at moveable individual benches. The teaching room has an open fire- place, both to warm the space on chilly days, and to cook food on, alongside ovens brought in from Europe. Classes will be held Thursday through to Saturday, with availability for private classes and events on other days.
The school’s relocation is one of many stories in Broadsheet’s newest print issue, produced in partnership with Tourism Tasmania to tell stories exclusive to the island state. It’s available now, for free, at selected cafes, restaurants, bars, shops and hotels across Melbourne.
Hunt down a copy to read about star chef Analiese Gregory (host of the SBS show A Girl’s Guide to Hunting, Fishing and Wild Cooking and formerly of Quay and Franklin) finding her feet on her new Huon Valley farm – and get her unusual recipe for wallaby tartare.
In another story, long-time Broadsheet arts writer Will Cox speaks to stage and screen power couple Ben Winspear and Marta Dusseldorp, who you may recognise from her roles in Jack Irish, Janet King or A Place to Call Home. The duo moved to Tasmania to “stay for two years and see what happens” – four years ago. They’ve formed their own production company and things are going so well they can’t think of being anywhere else. “One of the great things about this place is that everyone is so keen to help you do stuff,” Winspear told us. “There isn’t that mass of people clamouring for attention in the crowd. If you want to do something, people support you.”
Elite trail runner Hanny Allston is the subject of another article. She recently set up Wilder Trails, a project that helps casual runners set and achieve goals, without the pressure of entering a race. Allston has lived and run all over the world, but can’t get enough of Tasmania’s wild, easily accessible trails. “I’ve had grown men crying on tours because it’s so beautiful and old,” she says.
Talking about Tasmania without talking about this landscape seems like a near-impossible task. It came up again and again, as when we interviewed John Ibrahim, owner of Callington Mill, the state’s newest whisky distillery; Piet Blokker, an advocate of cold water therapy; Bruce Kemp, a world-famous cheesemaker who’s not allowed to sell his cheese; Josh Phillips, a chef who runs mobile food tours out of a van fitted with a full commercial kitchen; and Adam James, a fermentation expert whose small-batch specialities sell out in under an hour every time they drop online.
And especially so with Raymond Arnold, a celebrated landscape artist and printmaker working out of Queenstown, a small west coast town known for its reddish Martian hills, denuded of trees by intensive mining. He first visited the area in 1967, as a teenager, and says, “Part of coming back here was the idea that I could live and work within the realm of my interest in the landscape – both the good and bad aspects of it.”
Pick up your copy to read about all this and more.