Court­ing suc­cess

The Agrar­ian Kitchen’s Rod­ney Dunn ven­tures into new digs

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

It’s been a while in the mak­ing, but din­ers can now fi­nally take a seat at the ta­ble of Rod­ney Dunn’s new ven­ture in New Nor­folk.

The Agrar­ian Kitchen Eatery & Store opened by Dunn and his wife Séver­ine De­manet yes­ter­day, is lo­cated in the Bronte Build­ing of his­toric Wil­low Court, and will fol­low the same pad­dock-to-plate prin­ci­ples as their ac­claimed Lach­lan cooking school.

Dunn, who moved to Tas­ma­nia about nine years ago, was an ap­pren­tice un­der in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned chef Tet­suya Wakuda, and was for­merly the food edi­tor at Aus­tralian Gourmet Trav­eller.

His time in the Der­went Val­ley has only en­hanced his pas­sion for flavours and de­vo­tion to lo­cally grown pro­duce.

Mr Dunn said his in­spi­ra­tion for the lat­est ven­ture was to of­fer sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences to the cooking school but to make them more ac­ces­si­ble.

“We re­ally want to give ev­ery­one the ex­pe­ri­ence of the classes; that is to taste the amaz­ing pro­duce that is cooked just beau­ti­fully but it’s also an op­por­tu­nity to give some­thing more to New Nor­folk,” he said.

“I love to be in­spired and at the same time to in­spire oth­ers, so with the Eatery I want to bring our phi­los­o­phy and what we do [at the cooking school] to a wider au­di­ence.

“At Lach­lan we get loads of peo­ple com­ing out think­ing that we might be a restau­rant or calling ask­ing for a ta­ble for four and we have to say ‘oh sorry it’s just cooking classes’.”

He said he also wanted to en­sure that there was some­thing on of­fer at the Eatery for ev­ery­one.

“We hope it will be very ac­ces­si­ble, we don’t want to make it a re­ally high-end fine din­ing restau­rant, we want peo­ple to be able to come here and feel com­fort­able even with their kids,” he said.

A lot of the kitchen is fire-driven, with a grill, wood-fired oven and a smoker, how­ever, Mr Dunn said it

We hope it will be very ac­ces­si­ble, we don’t want to make it a re­ally high-end fine din­ing restau­rant, we want peo­ple to be able to come here and feel com­fort­able even with their kids

was dif­fi­cult to pin down any one par­tic­u­lar type of food that would be on of­fer.

The menu which will in­clude set meals for din­ner and easy af­ter­noon lunches is based on the same phi­los­o­phy as the cooking school. As in, the in­gre­di­ents will speak for them­selves with lit­tle adorn­ment.

He said their aim was to source most of their in­gre­di­ents from a com­mu­nity of lo­cal grow­ers, farm­ers and fish­er­men and com­ple­ment this with ex­cess from the cooking school’s gar­den and farm.

The new ven­ture will be headed up by a team of young guns that hail from here and abroad.

The kitchen will be led by Ali Cur­rey-Voumard, who has re­turned to her home state after a very suc­cess­ful start in Mel­bourne, which in­cluded work­ing at The Builders

Arms Ho­tel and Cu­mu­lus Inc.

Adi Ruiz, who hails from Bul­letin Place in Cir­cu­lar Quay, Syd­ney, will be ap­ply­ing his se­ri­ous tal­ents to the drinks side of the menu, cre­at­ing a range of al­co­holic and non-al­co­holic bev­er­ages.

“Adi is one of the top bar­men in the coun­try, we’re just lucky that he de­cided to move to Tassie as a bit of a tree change and we’ve nabbed him,” Dunn said.

The fi­nal touch to the Eatery is former Garag­istes co-owner Ka­t­rina Birch­meire who will head up the man­age­ment to tick ev­ery­thing along.

“We have known Ka­t­rina for a long time. She’s amaz­ing, ex­tremely pro­fes­sional and ex­cep­tion­ally knowl­edge­able in what she has done.”

The fit-out is an ob­vi­ous labour of love, from the light fit­tings made by lo­cal pot­ter Lee Far­rell to the reused bricks from the his­toric site’s bar­racks that make up the new oven.

While many would think that open­ing a restau­rant in a former men­tal asy­lum was not for the faint­hearted, Dunn said since the ren­o­va­tion the build­ing has been trans­formed.

“If you had of asked me if I was scared of ghosts be­fore this I would have said yes, but the more time I have spent in the build­ing and on the site the more com­fort­able I am,” he said. “I saw the build­ing about nine years ago when we first moved here and it was com­pletely derelict and it was a bit freaky but with it all done up it has a dif­fer­ent feel­ing.”

He said he was also grate­ful for the sup­port he’d re­ceived to help make the open­ing a re­al­ity.

“We re­ceived a grant for $130,000 from the Aus­tralian and Tas­ma­nian gov­ern­ments through the Tas­ma­nia Jobs and In­vest­ment Fund.”

“I think as the site gets de­vel­oped more peo­ple will see how amaz­ing these build­ings are and re­alise that they are just too good to get knocked down.”

“I have ev­ery faith that it will hap­pen as peo­ple see the po­ten­tial in New Nor­folk.”

The Eatery will be open from Mon­day to Fri­day for lunch, as well as Fri­day and Satur­day night for din­ner.

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