When Séverine Demanet and husband, Rodney Dunn, stumbled across the word ‘agrarian’ in an essay by environmentalist, Wendell Berry, they couldn’t help but be enchanted by the words that followed: “An agrarian mind begins with the love of fields, and ramifies in good farming, good cooking and good eating.” Wishing to create a school that taught just that, The Agrarian Kitchen was soon established.

After falling in love with Tasmania during a number of work trips, Rodney and Séverine left their slick Sydney life and relocated to the tiny Derwent Valley town of Lachlan in 2007. They immediately set to work transforming an old schoolhouse into Tasmania’s first hands-on, farm-based cooking school. Leading the class is Rodney, whose background as the one-time apprentice of legendary chef Tetsuya Wakuda, and experience as Food Researcher for Seven Network’s Better Homes and Gardens and Food Editor for Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine, had set him up nicely for the role.

Set across five picturesque acres of the Derwent Valley, The Agrarian Kitchen property is the envy of many. Surrounded by rolling hills, English-style gardens and, most importantly, a working farm, Rodney and Séverine have celebrated the history of the region through their work. The farm is also home to an extensive organic vegetable garden, orchard, berry patch and herb garden, as well as an abundance of rare-breed farm animals.

Currently, the cooking school offers 26 different classes. They range greatly in style, from the classic Agrarian Experience all the way to specialist workshops on cheese-making, vegetarian food, vegetable fermentation, charcuterie and more. The Agrarian Experience is one of Rodney and Séverine’s most popular classes, tracing the journey from paddock to plate. Kicking off in the garden, students join Rodney to collect the fruits, vegetables and herbs needed for a day in the kitchen. Any produce that isn’t grown and harvested onsite is sourced locally from neighbouring farms and producers.

From here, everyone heads into the kitchen to create the day’s feast. Dishes are split among the class, with Rodney carefully guiding students through each step. To finish, everyone sits down together and shares a beautiful lunch, washed down with a few bottles of Tasmania’s best.

Classes at the farm are usually restricted to nine people, allowing you to get as much or as little help as you desire. Each menu is based on what can be foraged from the garden, so what you end up eating will be just as much a surprise for your teacher as it is for you. Past classes have featured dishes such as poached wagyu beef brisket, with coriander and horseradish relish, and rhubarb millefeuille with rhubarb sorbet.

A class at The Agrarian Kitchen not only gives you the tools to create a restaurant-quality meal, but also opens a door into a way of life easily missed in the hustle and bustle of everyday. Thanks to Rodney’s abundance of experience and watchful eye, students can expect to leave the schoolhouse with a few new recipes and, better yet, an appreciation for the beauty of an agrarian lifestyle.

Locate The Agrarian Kitchen Cooking School

650 Lachlan Road, Lachlan TAS, Australia


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