Mornings routines at Australia’s coolest cooking experience

When you run a farm and Australia’s most popular cooking experience your mornings are going to be packed.

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Rodney Dunn is that cool culinary professional who left the city and headed for the country seeking a change. And while most us dream of doing something similar – mainly for the idea of leisurely days accentuated with tending vegetable patches, collecting eggs and spending afternoons in the good company of novels and scones, Rodney made his move in a much more time intensive, but still delicious way.

After editing Gourmet Traveller and previously working as a chef, Dunn and his wife Severine (who is just as divine as her name sounds) left Sydney and moved to Tasmania to begin their new business – The Agrarian Kitchen; it’s a paddock to plate cooking experience and one that books out months in advance. Something Rodney says is probably because unlike other cooking schools they offer the entire affair. Students venture out to collect produce before it’s transformed in the kitchen, as well as educated on how it’s grown – “It’s really exploring the possibilities of food and flavour, and before I moved out here I spent much of my life training to cook and I never experienced food like I do now”.

It’s food like streaky smoked bacon care of their Berkshire pigs and jams made from fruits foraged in their garden. Along with the brown spotted eggs from the Barnevelder chickens, both feature in the family’s morning meals. Time pending of course – as sometimes with so much to do before students arrive it’s a piece of toast before heading out to tend the property. Unless it’s Sunday in which case at the behest of his son it’ll be a pancake breakfast. Cooked in butter and then drenched in maple syrup. Sound tempted? Luckily for us, Rodney’s penned the recipe and shared for Pepper Passport… Get it here.

I’m normally waking up between… Normally about 7, so not incredibly early. I am not a morning person at all – coming from a background as a chef, or even before that I don’t think I was a morning person at all… hate the mornings. So prying out from under the covers is difficult, but getting easier the older I get.

Once I’m up I’m…  Usually off and doing a task outside; feeding animals or milking goats and just getting ready for the day ahead if there’s a class on.

And if I’m a exercise inclined I’ll …  Am I an exercising kind? No. I get enough exercise on the farm, I don’t have to go out and find it.

Then it’s on to breakfast… but I’ve never really been a person programmed to sit down everyday to the ritual of a hearty breakfast.  I rarely sit down – it’s more a piece of toast when there’s much to do. Yesterday I had strawberry jam that we’d made from our own berries. But if I do sit down to one it will vary. In winter we generally try to do porridge with some poached fruit or something – so that’s quite nice, particularly down here in the cold. Or if I’ve got some bacon from the smokehouse care of our pigs I’ll try to incorporate that somehow. We just vary it really. Things with eggs – scrambled or omelettes.

When it comes to coffee or tea… I used to always be a tea person and I still love my tea, but since we’ve got a coffee machine I find myself drinking more and more coffee. I’ll probably have two a day. But if I am drinking tea I like a builder’s style one – perhaps an English Breakfast, or, I really love and it’s a bit indulgent the Marco Polo blend made by Mariage Frères. That’s awesome. Or their Madame Butterfly. That’s good too.

If I’m off for a breakfast meeting or catch up… we would go into Hobart, either to Pigeonhole Café (93 Goulburn St, West Hobart) or Tricycle Café (77 Salmanaca Place, Hobart).

On the weekend… we try to sit down to a breakfast and it’s normally dictated by what our son wants to have; which is usually pancakes. I make American style ones – so self-raising flour, an egg, some milk and little bit of butter, and that little bit of butter – it makes them nice and golden, and then they’re cooked in some more butter as well. And then lots of maple syrup… I’m a sweet tooth.

By 10am I’m… Usually answering emails or hopefully I’m not in the office at all and I’m outside doing something! Whether it is watering or if there’s a class on we’ll be in the garden talking through the herbs or milking the goats. I’m not thinking about lunch, because if it a class is on I would have thought about that days lunch the day before. But if I’m out and have jobs to do, I don’t think about lunch at all – more about the task at hand and lunch happens. It’ll be something pretty boring, and we’ll then be back out and at it.

And the next big thing is… The tractor – and it’s opening up a world of opportunities! Finished off a little chicken coup, which is built on a trailer the chickens live in and it moves around behind the tractor. So we’re looking with the tractor what we can do to make transitions smoother between areas where pigs or goats have been and chickens have come into, in an effort towards boosting multipurpose farming.

If you’d like to spend your Sunday morning eating American style pancakes drenched with maple syrup you best click here. 

Image credits: Rodney (Luke Burgess), kitchen and pigs (Amanda McLauchlan), geese (Pauline Mak) and pancakes (Rodney Dunn).

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