Kylie Kwong's Birthday Message for Stephanie

Friday, November 13, 2020

I first met Stephanie in 2001 when she was guest chef at the annual ‘Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Awards’ lunch in Sydney. I was seated next to Stephanie’s former and long-time cookbook publisher, Julie Gibbs (who went on to become my cookbook publisher!), who very kindly took me into the kitchen to meet my hero, Stephanie – we instantly connected.

Since then I have shared many a delicious meal and inspirational engagement with Stephanie. She has generously introduced me to her two wonderful daughters and many of her foodie friends and colleagues, including Maggie and Colin Beer. I cherish the times we have enjoyed meals of comforting roast chicken, freshly harvested and sautéed cavolo nero, and glasses of chilled Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé around Maggie and Col’s country kitchen table in the Barossa Valley. I recall the privilege of being one of Stephanie’s guest chef’s one year when she co-owned Richmond Hill Café & Larder, and the joy of meeting her business partners and great friends, Ange and Duffy Clemens, who have since become great friends of mine.

Stephanie invited me to be the NSW patron of SAKGF, which I took great pride in, for over 10 years. The opportunity to collaborate with the children and their teachers and to experience the sheer joy, wonderment and transformation these students received through Stephanie’s ground-breaking program was one of my career highlights.

I’ll never forget the fun day we shared together doing a photoshoot for the Australian Women’s Weekly. It was a freezing, windy day and Stephanie, Maggie and the late Margaret Fulton were giggling and squealing like cheeky teenagers, as they huddled together in blankets in the middle of Centennial Park, in between shots.

Another unforgettable experience with Stephanie was when she, Maggie, Neil Perry, Margaret Fulton and I were chosen to appear on Australia Post’s commemorative stamps, Australian Legends of Cooking 2014.

Stephanie has offered and taught me so much over these years, not just about the pleasures of planting, growing, harvesting, cooking, eating and sharing food and the vital role of the restaurateur; but more so, about the importance of sustainability on every level, about being an authentic role model within the hospitality industry, and on the importance of making one’s practice an ongoing, valuable contribution to the community as a whole. 

Cheers to the birthday gal and all the wonderful memories,

KK ::))))

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