Stephanie Alexan­der tak­ing the fear out of first-time cooks

Noosa Life and Style - - NEWS - KIRI TEN DOLLE

MORE than 1500 schools have adopted Stephanie Alexan­der’s recipes for sim­ple but nutri­tious meals. Read about her bi­ble, and her gar­den ex­ploits.

Noth­ing warms Stephanie Alexan­der’s heart more than see­ing lit­tle dirt-stained hands scratch in the veg­etable gar­den. Tiny fingers pluck the fruits of their labour from school­yard potagers des­tined for the kitchen. For many it’s the first time their taste­buds are tan­ta­lised by the for­eign flavours of some fruits, veg­eta­bles and herbs. Alexan­der’s name is syn­ony­mous with the book re­garded as the “bi­ble” in Aus­tralian kitchens. But for the doyenne of do­mes­tic­ity, The Cook’s Com­pan­ion isn’t her proud­est achieve­ment. Rather it’s her phil­an­thropic feat in the Stephanie Alexan­der Kitchen Gar­den Foun­da­tion she founded in 2001 to ig­nite the palates of school­child­ren. Her ef­forts to sow the seed of healthy food habits into class­rooms re­sulted in Alexan­der be­ing ap­pointed an Of­fi­cer of the Or­der of Aus­tralia in 2014. To­day, more than 1500 schools have adopted the pro­gram across Aus­tralia, in­clud­ing more than 50 in Queens­land. “It’s the fuel that keeps me go­ing,” the 77-year-old says. “When I see the en­thu­si­asm and the chil­dren ex­plain to me how much the pro­gram means to them, I feel a real glow of pride. It’s the most im­por­tant thing I’ve done.” Teach­ing oth­ers to cook re­mains at the heart of what Alexan­der does, al­most five decades since she swapped li­brary shelves for the kitchen pass. It’s no sur­prise her lat­est book, The Cook’s Ap­pren­tice, the 18th in her cat­a­logue, was ini­tially in­spired by years of train­ing young ap­pren­tices and the need to teach teenagers ba­sic cook­ing tech­niques for adult­hood. “As I go around the coun­try, I’m re­al­is­ing there are a lot of adults, for all sorts of dif­fer­ent rea­sons, have sim­ply not learned how to cook. “Some­times peo­ple have lost the cook in their fam­ily, through divorce or death. They re­alise sooner or later, they need to look after them­selves and that in­cludes cook­ing food.” “I want to feel that I’m al­most hold­ing the hand of some­body who’s read­ing the recipe and they can say ‘I can do that’.” The Cook’s Ap­pren­tice (Lan­tern, RRP $45).

Stephanie Alexan­der's proud­est mo­ments.

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