There is no greater joy than sharing food, conversation and laughter around a table.
Breaking bread and sharing hospitality has been central to the Christian tradition since biblical times, whether it was Jesus feeding the five thousand, or simply sitting and eating with anyone who invited him, regardless of their social status. So it’s not surprising that in 2018 Australia we too are big fans of sharing our table with others.
One of our most famous culinary gurus, food educator Stephanie Alexander, is also a huge advocate for the pleasure and social benefits that creating wonderful and healthy food bring.
In fact, Stephanie is so good at it that she was recognised for her passion for sharing her food skills with the community by being made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2014 in relation to her renowned kitchen garden program in schools.
Yet had she followed her initial training as a librarian, she might never have become a household name in our kitchens and at our dining tables. Leaving the world of books for the kitchen, Stephanie and first husband Rupert Montague (Monty) opened The Jamaica House Restaurant in 1964. This was followed by the iconic Stephanie’s Restaurant which she ran for 21 years until 1997.
Author of more than 15 cookbooks, including the famous The Cook’s Companion, which has sold 500,000 copies, Stephanie decided in 2001 that, to encourage the community to eat in a healthier way, we needed to start with primary school children. And so the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program was born at Collingwood College in inner suburban Melbourne.
Kitchen and garden classes run weekly in participating schools, with children operating a vegetable garden and home-style kitchen, growing and then cooking their own produce. By doing this they soon develop a love of being involved in food and hospitality from the ground up—literally.
Stephanie is passionate about making a difference, using her skills to help the community.
“I have promoted pleasurable food education through kitchen garden programs in schools for nearly 15 years.it delivers skills and an awareness of the benefits of eating well and being active as well as engaging a child’s curiosity about the natural world,” Stephanie tells Warcry.
Stephanie Alexander certainly exemplifies the importance of food and sharing, following the great biblical tradition of breaking bread together.
The importance of this tradition in her life is simply but eloquently expressed, with Stephanie saying that she wants “to live for another day, another meal. In the end, I still believe there is no greater joy than sharing food, conversation and laughter around a table.”