"When Stephanie Alexander began her journal for 1997 she was set to embark on an exhilarating new adventure - the planning and opening of Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder. What she did not forsee, however, was that before the year was out, in another country, far from familiar associations, she would suddenly make one of the most liberating, if painful, decisions of her life - to close the door on her renowned restaurant of twenty-one years, Stephanie's.
"Stephanie's Journal records the hectic professional life of one of Australia's foremost writer-cooks and also, with great candour and generosity, offers readers the samll, intimate details of her daily life: her responses to people, the sensuous pleasure she draws from a leaf or a fruit or a flower; her precious times with family and friends; her memories, her doubts, her dark moments and her hopes for the future. And always the food - 'Good food and good fellowship sustain me when I feel low, and delight me when I want to celebrate.'
"The passion, the intelligence, the artist's sensibility and the commitment to excellence revealed in her journal explain much about the eminence Stephanie Alexander has attained in the world of cookery - and why each new book is such a special occasion for everyone who loves food and life.
"A book of the head and heart, to be read late into the night and carried into the kitchen."
About the Author:
Stephanie Alexander was the creative force behind Stephanie's Restaurant before its closure on New Year's Eve in 1997. The restaurant was the recipient of many national and international awards and accolades, and was regarded as an essential Melbourne exprience. In partnership with her daughter Lisa Montague, longtime friend Angela Clemens and cheese expert Will Studd, Stephanie opened the Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder in the autumn of 1997. She was awarded an order of Australia in 1994 and in 1995 received an Australina Achiever award, presented to her by the prime minister.
First Paragraph from the Introduction:
When I started to write this journal I had no inkling that 1997 would be such a momentous year. Or that my life would be changed so dramtically. Or that Stephanie's Restaurant would close forever. Stephanie's journal records the end of an era, and includes my own thoughts about these things.
I had expected, rather, to explore my recurring preoccupations: how one is connected through people and places to the past, which then influences the present and the future. How one's personal philosophy influences all aspects of one's life. And how out of step I sometimes feel with a world that judges most enterprises by the profitability first of all, whereas I am stuck with an obsesseion to do things well and hang the expense. I am also constantly amazed at how chance happenings - or fate - can catch one's imagination, or change one's direction, or fire one's creativity.
The book includes stories about people and places and artistic endeavour. It includes an account of the two months I spent in Tuscany with my friend Maggie Beer, since published in a different form as Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer's Tuscan Cookbook. It details the establishment of Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder. And it includes much about friendship and about growing old and about loss.
Inevitably there is plenty about good food - about finding it, cooking it and enjoying it. As always, my joy in my vocation is all-pervading. Good food and fellowship sustain me when I feel low, and delight me when I want to celebrate. I am always optimistic that the next meal will be wonderful. I feel full of energy, and life seems to get more satisfying as it progresses. I am excited and curious about the future.
From the Viking hardback edition, 1999.
This page and its contents are copyright © 2001 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Larrikin Literature Page.
Last modified: March 28, 2001.