The Cook's Companion

by Stephanie Alexander

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Original Publisher
Penguin Books Australia
Date of publication

Recommended by

Jill Dupleix

Food writer

What a great reference book this is, from one of Australia’s natural teachers. You can open this book at any page and cook something for tonight’s dinner – and you will have gained more than a meal, you would have learnt something. Stephanie Alexander is one of the ‘mothers’ of Australia, along with Maggie Beer, Charmaine Solomon, Diane Holuigue, Margaret Fulton and so many more. With this incredibly useful book, Stephanie set out to do an alphabetical guide to seasonal produce, meats and fish, thereby endearing herself to an entire generation of home cooks.

Victoria Prever

Food Editor, Jewish Chronicle

I bought this book with a book voucher prize I won when I graduated from Leith’s. It’s an encyclopaedia of ingredients, and packed with useful information, from tips on how to store and prepare ingredients, to lists of other foods that the ingredient you are looking up goes with. There is a wide range of recipes for each one and a large introductory section on basic cooking methods. I could spend hours browsing and head to it when needing inspiration. Alexander is a national treasure in her native Australia and I love the antipodean influence.

Michele Cranston

Food stylist and magazine food editor

Never did a book so grandly live up to its name. Indeed, having this book perched on your kitchen bench is like being guided by a warm and generous Aunt who has spent a lifetime cooking and researching food. There are recipes for every event and occasion, knowledgeable information and my most favourite bit, the 'go with' lists that compile a selection of flavours and ingredients that compliment each other. This is a well thumbed and food-splattered book that answers just about every question and has inspired many generations of home cooks.

Nina Caplan

Wine and food writer

This huge tome by the acclaimed Australian restaurateur and cook Stephanie Alexander runs from abalone to zucchini – but that’s not its charm. As well as Mrs Atkins’ Marvellous Fruit Slice or Pine Forest Mushrooms with Garlic, Cream and Parsley, there are learned yet readable pages on everything from melons to mint, and the margins have lists of other foods that complement the featured item, as well as yet more recipes – as if, in over a thousand pages, Alexander still can’t quite stuff in all she wants to tell us.

Debora Robertson

Food writer and editor

This book, by one of Australia's foremost chefs and food writers, is arranged alphabetically by ingredient and crammed with tips, ideas and inspiration. It's tremendously clear and practical, instils confidence, jollies you along and is crammed with recipes for everything from Polish sausage and potato salad and Mrs Beeton's warm crab custards, to Thai rose petal and cucumber salad and chestnut mont blanc.

Holly Bell

Recipe writer, presenter and blogger

A dear friend bought me this after a long visit to Australia. I'd never heard of Stephanie Alexander but have since found out she's a VERY famous chef in Oz. This is a book that helps you use whatever you have in the house. If there's a glut of apples then simply turn to the apples section and away you go. It's amazing how inspiring a change in indexing can be.

Kate Young

Blogger and cookbook author

I grew up in Australia, and rarely saw a shelf of cookbooks without this book. It’s an extraordinary, encyclopedic tome. Endlessly inspiring, with tips for using almost any ingredient you can put your hand to. I remembering reading my mum and dad’s copies as they were teaching me to cook – it was an integral part of my education.

Lucy Malouf

Food writer and editor

This would be my desert island cookbook. In fact it was the sole book I took, from a library of thousands, when I went to live in France for a year. It’s a superb reference book, packed full of useful information for a comprehensive selection of ingredients, but it’s also a vast reservoir of useful recipes. It’s a forever book.

Caroline Hennessy

Food writer

This Australian encyclopedia of food and recipes, infused with Stephanie's warm personality, brings you on a fascinating A-Z journey through ingredients and techniques. It's invaluable to anyone trying to figure out food in the Antipodes and also a brilliant read for anyone interested in food.

Diana Henry

Award-winning food writer and author. Columnist at The Sunday Telegraph

A great big huggable book, full of knowledge, great recipes and good advice. It’s clearly the work of a lifetime. It was the first book I know of to use a cloth quarter binding and I immediately fell for it. A handsome tome that you can use forever.

Aliza Green

Chef and author

This great big book (I love reading long and complex books) by an Australian chef, was part of the inspiration for my own book, Starting with Ingredients. I love to read cookbooks from other places in the world to give me a fresh point of view.

David Prior


A legendary restaurateur in Australia, Alexander first trained as a librarian and in The Cook's Companion this pedigree shows. An invaluable resource arranged by ingredient from A-Z with a dizzying array of accompanying recipes.

Nigella Lawson

Author, journalist, broadcaster and television personality

A beautiful beast of a book, over 1,000 pages long and weighing in at 2.5 kilos, this Australian classic bulges with ideas, inspiration and recipes that still seem fresh and original 20 years after it was first published.

Terry Durack

Restaurant critic, author, columnist

Margaret Fulton Cooking used to be Australia’s all-purpose, go-to cookbook. Now it’s Stephanie’s alphabetical, ingredient-driven reference manual, a book that should be on everybody’s shelf.

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

Food writers

The Cook's Companion is a thorough, detailed and masterful guide to ingredients and how to cook them. The recipes are impeccably researched and simply explained.

Richard Corrigan


A tome, a work of a lifetime and a nod to my love of quality and luxury this book had me at ‘cloth quarter binding’!

Lauraine Jacobs

Author and columnist

Brilliant read, with really useful notes and great recipes. A book to cover everything a cook needs to know.

Jennifer McLagan


My favourite books are ingredient driven. Love the suggestions in the margins they give me ideas.

Martyna Angell

Blogger, Wholesome Cook

It's a fantastic reference guide for the Australian cuisine and the classics it has to offer.

David Dale


Somer Sivrioglu

Blogger, Chinese Grandma

Sonia Cabano

Author, former chef & TV cook/presenter

Katrina Meynink

Food writer and author

Tori Haschka

Author and writer

Mark LaBrooy

Head Chef and Owner Three Blue Ducks (with co - Owner Darren Robertson)

Bruce Palling


Sue Hines

Group Publishing Director, Allen & Unwin/ Murdoch Books

Adam D’Sylva

Executive Chef

Sarah Wilson

Author and Blogger

Luke Mangan


Tony Tan

Cooking school owner

Barbara-Jo McIntosh

Author and food professional

Peter Gilmore

Executive Chef, Quay Restaurant and Bennelong

Thomasina Miers

Founder of Wahaca, chef and writer

Lani Kingston

Food professional

Lorraine Elliott

Food Blogger, Writer & Photographer

Nikki Werner

Food writer

Tonia George

Food writer

Neale Whitaker

Editor in Chief for Vogue Living Australia and judge on The Block

Yotam Ottolenghi

Chef and author

Hamish Ingham

Executive Chef Bar H Surry Hills