Food and beverage stories
Rustic eateries right on trend
By Graeme Phillips
The increasing number and success of farmers’ markets reflects consumers’ growing concern about food miles, healthy eating and where their food comes from.
Former restaurant critic, Matthew Evans, moved from Sydney to a small property in the Huon, south of Hobart, with a dream of becoming a farmer.
With him came a camera crew from SBS television to record his trials, tribulations, the area’s farmers and other characters and Evans’ progressive adaptation to rural life.
The first series of Gourmet Farmer was screened to huge national acclaim.
Series two and three followed over the ensuing two years and were so successful that Evans and Gourmet Farmer were being blamed locally for soaring Huon Valley land prices.
By that time, Evans and his partner Sadie had a son, their two pigs had become 22 and they needed a bigger farm.
So the fourth series, launched in August, follows his establishment of Fat Pig Farm, planting vegetable gardens, building a house and commercial kitchen and the realisation of his long-held ambition – opening an on-farm restaurant for Friday Feasts.
Up to 50 guests get a variety of some 20 different farm ingredients at the Feasts with four meaty courses and the rest fresh, simply prepared vegetables.
“The idea” said Evans, “is to produce most of the meal on the property, so that it tastes like the season you are living in and of the soil you are standing on.”
While remaining Food Editor of Gourmet Traveller magazine, Rodney Dunn moved from Sydney with his partner Séverine Demanet in 2007.
The following year they started The Agrarian Kitchen Cooking School and Farm at Lachlan.
“It was born”, said Dunn, “from a longing to connect back to earth and cook authentic food with real ingredients.”
Their venture quickly became widely celebrated and attracted guests from around Australia and beyond.
Their next chapter began in 2015 and culminated in the recent opening of their Agrarian Kitchen Eatery and Store in what had, many decades previously, been New Norfolk’s sprawling mental hospital.
Dunn has written: “The vision is to create a space where local, seasonal produce is celebrated.
“Where the diner experiences a true sense of place through the food they eat.
“Where the ingredients speak for themselves with little adornment.
“Our aim is to foster a community of local growers, farmers and fishermen through which the mainstay of our ingredients are sourced, along with excess from the cooking school’s garden and farm.
“Fruit and vegetables enter the kitchen with remnants of leaves and soil attached, meat as whole carcasses to be hung and broken down when required.
“Excess produce of the season receives special treatment of preservation – being pickled, jammed, fermented and cured in our dedicated preserving kitchen to be featured on future menus or offered for sale in our store.”
As said, right on trend and both paddock-to-plate enterprises are enjoying instant success.
Image courtesy of Gourmet Traveller
6 September 2017, Edition 187