Stephanie Alexander is one of our country’s most renowned and acclaimed chefs, a restaurateur, food writer and author who has excelled in her dedication and pursuit of excellence promoting Australia’s Hospitality and Tourism industries. She has always championed local good food producers both in Australia and internationally on her menus, in published articles and in her numerous books.
Stephanie is the author of twelve books, along with a six part ABC television series in 1999 to accompany her book “A Shared Table’. Her bestselling book ‘The Cook’s Companion” initially published in 1996 and expanded in 2004 has sold in excess of 500,000 copies, becoming a ‘kitchen bible’ for everyone from children to young adults, especially those who become independent and leave home and have to learn how to cook for themselves and utilize fresh food in their daily lives.
Further expanding her belief in children learning about food, Stephanie developed a comprehensive gardening and cooking program in 2001 at the Collingwood College in inner city Melbourne. This innovative project has since seen hundreds of primary school children from grades three to six assisting in developing and maintaining an extensive vegetable garden at the school. Based on organics principles, the garden provides an opportunity for children to participate in this form of gardening, understand seasonality and follow the ‘paddock to plate’ philosophy by harvesting the bountiful produce to prepare a wide array of culinary delights which they share. These positive experiences provide a sound basis that will stand them in good stead in later life in the way they think about eating habits.
‘Kitchen Garden Cooking for Kids’ which was a winner of the 2007 Le Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards further reinforces the success of the Kitchen Garden at Collingwood College. It records the programme’s challenges and milestones, offering guidance and practical advice to schools and communities interested in establishing their own kitchen garden along with more than one hundred recipes that have all been cooked by the students at Collingwood in a format designed to encourage cooking with children either at home or in the classroom.
Following the success of the Collingwood College’s Program, the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation was set up in 2004 to raise funds for the implementation of Kitchen Garden Program in other schools. Today there are currently 139 schools across Australia participating in the programme with this not for profit organization dedicated to spreading the word, by teaching children in a pleasurable way, about growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing food.