When Rodney Dunn and Severine Demanet dreamt up their Tasmanian cooking school, eatery and market garden The Agrarian Kitchen’s latest program, they already had 15 years of experience to draw on. Since 2008, The Agrarian Kitchen has cemented itself as a world-class culinary complex, perfect for a long lunch, a casual bite to eat or a deep dive into the seductive world of cooking and gardening.

Its 2024 cooking class calendar reads like a who’s who of the country’s most exciting culinary talent, as Peter Gilmore (Quay, Bennelong), Natalie Paull (Beatrix Bakes), Nadine Ingram (Flour and Stone), Danielle Alvarez (ex-Fred’s, author Recipes for a Lifetime of Beautiful Cooking) and Andrew McConnell (Gimlet, Apollo Inn and others) line up in the purpose-built kitchen classroom alongside Tasmanian talent including fermenter Adam James (Rough Rice) and chef Analiese Gregory (How Wild Things Are) to impart their knowledge of everything from making pasta and sourdough to natural cheesemaking and crafting charcuterie.

For more than a decade, the school and garden were operated from Dunn and Demanet’s home, several kilometres down the road in Lachlan. Its more recent iteration began in 2017 when the duo open a restaurant in a former asylum in nearby New Norfolk. Over the years, they have seamlessly integrated the rest of the Agrarian Kitchen experience – including its classroom and market garden – into the new space, allowing the full garden-to-plate ethos to be experienced first-hand.

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“Anyone can talk to you about cooking and about gardening, but unless you can see, smell, taste and touch, the experience is academic,” Dunn tells Broadsheet as he walks through the light-filled kitchen, where 12 workbenches set the stage for discovering flavour and technique. Hidden cutlery drawers, low-profile induction stoves and sleek surfaces make this a delightful space to spend a day. Down one end is a monolithic reclaimed-brick fireplace, creating both ambience on chilly winter days and the perfect starting point to delve into the art of fire cooking with Firedoor’s Lennox Hastie, who is also part of the 2024 program.

Classic courses like the weekly Agrarian Experience (in which students forage in the garden then cook a seasonal meal guided by Dunn) and whole hog butchery are back, along with new classes like Gardening Fundamentals and a masterclass in the world of flowers with horticulturist Jac Semmler’s Beauty and Bounty.

Many classes begin outside, foraging in the expansive organic one-acre market garden within the asylum’s former exercise yard. Towering stone walls have helped create a garden environment that’s already exceeding the expectations of Dunn and head gardener Mitch Theissen. What’s harvested within these four walls provides up to 95 per cent of the produce used in the restaurant and informs the ingredients for the day’s class.

Most classes include lunch paired with wine and something to take home, be it cheeses, armfuls of artisanal bread, or the products of the day’s recipes. The Agrarian Kitchen is about the celebration and rediscovery of flavours, and with naturally ripened produce just beyond the kitchen door, there isn’t a better place to start your adventure.

“The entire experience is centred around being fun and enjoyable first, and if you learn something along the way, great,” says Dunn.