Paul Baker emerged from a bush, holding two identical plants.
"Chickweed, and caustic weed," he said, confidently. "One tastes of cress and the other is a very bad idea to eat."
Wearing both the white, double-breasted coat of a chef and a gardener's apron, I'm not sure which half of his strange ensemble I trusted most. However, as head chef for the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, Paul's ability to pluck herbs and edibles from the tens of thousands of plants in the public gardens was beyond doubt. This was his patch.
His passion for discovering new and unusual ingredients helped launch one of Adelaide's most celebrated restaurants.
Adelaide's first foraging restaurant, the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, is tucked away out of sight in one of the city's many green spaces. It would be a rare discovery in any other city, but Adelaide is not your typical food town.
It seems there are some exciting food morsels to be found at every corner, and Kiwis in the South Australian capital might find the city strangely familiar.
The grid system with generous roads and green spaces is thanks to something locals refer to glowingly as "Light vision". Built to a plan by 19th-century planner Colonel William Light it became a template of modern urban design.
Adelaide was Light's masterpiece and said to be the inspiration for Christchurch. The orderly layout and generous green spaces sculpted around the city limits and the River Torrens are instantly welcoming.
It is said the army-man-turned-civic-planner drew it up on his dining table. Possibly between courses. It must have been a generous spread, as even today it's a city brimming with markets and restaurants.
It seems fitting that sitting pride of place in Victoria Square, opposite the South Australia Supreme and District courts, is the Adelaide Central Market, the beating heart of the foodie city. Here, you'll find 70 stalls selling everything from fresh olive oil to offal.
Having been at the centre of Adelaide for 150 years, its wares are a record of changing tastes and the make-up of the city - from Lucia's, an Italian deli which claims to have served up Adelaide's first slice of pizza, to the Asian grocers that first convinced skeptical Aussies to try bok choy. If it's on the menu in South Australia, chances are it was served up here first.
The new kids on the block are Rob and Chester Frank. Zealously selling bulk superfoods, their eco-conscious new stall House of Health encourages patrons to "bring their own containers".
"South Australians are great at taking care of themselves," explains Chester. "We're hoping to convince them to take better care of the planet."
At the back of the stall, Chester shows off the space where a kefir bar is being installed – serving a sort of fermented milk drink – and a peanut butter fountain. Sadly there are no free samples today. The Franks moved into the space three days ago and the bar is on the backburner while there are tills to tend in the busy market space.
Next stall along, Tony O'Connell, the butcher at O'Connells Meats, says he's also had to change with the times. Over the past 30 years, Tony has witnessed what he calls the "MasterChef effect".
"If it's on the show the night before, it sells out the next day," he says. Tony has taken to researching recipes ahead of each week's cooking show to give suppliers enough notice.
The stallholders have been able to source and supply the state's faddish food appetite - everywhere you turn you'll see purple sprouting broccolini, yuzu and nori.
Beyond produce, the market is also the base for Food Tourism Australia (ausfoodtours.com) - an essential stop and often the start of travellers' trips into the rich countryside on the edge of the Murray River breadbasket.
Three-quarters of South Australians live in Adelaide. A fact reflected in the state's recent proposal to rename the whole region "Adelaide".
The majority of the urban population has little to do with the state's agriculture, but they like what they get from it.
Driving around the green-fringed city, it's hard to tell where Adelaide begins and the farmland ends. Every back garden seems to be lined with a row of olive trees or a small polytunnel of tomatoes.
Back inside the city, in the Botanic Gardens, it seems chef Paul has taken this to its natural conclusion.
More than a backyard, Paul has a 51ha public garden to forage in. From the Victorian botany collection, his team has been able to create award-winning garden-to-plate meals on-site.
Meeting Paul outside the converted tearoom, we set off to look for bush tucker - Adelaide style. You can tell he's determined to find a use for every plant that can be made an ingredient.
"It's the only garden like it in Australia," he says. "Sydney or Melbourne have nothing like this amount of edibles."
The 200-year-old grounds are an almost encyclopaedic collection of plants and a godsend for a creative chef.
Early settlers wanted to know what would grow here and most of their plantings are still growing, Paul explains on a walk through the grounds. What began as a test lab for early botanists has become a testing ground for Paul's kitchens.
Pointing out the plants and their uses, Paul takes pride out of using the seasonal fruit already on site. Wattleseed, lemon myrtle and giant bunya nuts dropped from pine trees like ordnance in an air raid. It's best not to walk under a bunya tree.
"There's an amazing array of produce. Things you can't get anywhere else because of the garden's subclimates."
Harvested and cooked without leaving the premises, there's not a section of the garden the restaurant hasn't tried to produce a dish out of.
Throughout the menu, there's a sprinkling of samphire, chicory and saltbush. It's not to the extent to become a gardener's gimmick, but enough to make the connection with the land.
Like its botanic gardens, Adelaide offers fertile soil for restaurants and bars to grow into the most unexpected places.
An explosion of local gin distilleries and new-wave winemakers in the Adelaide Hills have helped boutique bars to sprout like weeds.
Perhaps the best example of this can be found leading off a back alley on Leigh St.
The Pink Moon Saloon was recently named Australia's Best Bar and also won the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards in London. This is even more impressive considering it's built in the alley where the neighbouring restaurants used to keep their bins. The shed, as tall as it is long, stands on what was once fallow land. It would be easy to walk right past the frontage and miss it entirely. However, you'd kick yourself if you did. (A barrel-aged gin negroni is a good reason to stop).
Adelaide city, Adelaide state, might no longer be a simple market town from Light's plan, but it's remained fertile ground for new food and drink experiences.
Air New Zealand flies direct from Auckland to Adelaide.