Annie Smithers is one of Australia's best-regarded female chefs. She has built a distinguished career in the restaurant world since apprenticing with Stephanie Alexander back in 1984 at Alexander's acclaimed eponymous Melbourne restaurant. In the past decade, she has worked in regional Victoria, first at Annie Smithers' Bistrot in Kyneton and, since 2013, at du Fermier ('From the Farmhouse'), her charming, perfectly formed little restaurant in nearby Trentham (central Victoria). Here, she has garnered even more acclaim as a one-woman band, turning out rustic French provincial-style food that is dictated very much by the seasons. As well, she has established a thriving vegetable garden on her home property in Malmsbury. This garden (chooks, geese, apple trees, and about an acre of vegetables) is about both feeding restaurant guests, and her broader goal to be, where possible, self sustaining. Annie's work has been called out for excellence by the country's foremost food guide (awarded one hat), is regularly identified as a favourite of leading national critic John Lethlean, and has been named as one of The Financial Review's top restaurants nationally. Robin Cowcher is an illustrator, art director and designer with more than three decades' experience in books, magazines and newspapers. She is both a painter and drawer, and her work in Annie's Farmhouse Kitchen will bring these talents together in evocative watercolours that capture the essence of Annie Smithers' world. Robin's relationship with Annie dates back to her days illustrating a regular column Annie wrote for The Age newspaper, and to that end, Robin is perfectly placed to bring an artist's eye and perspective to the book. Robin's recent successes include several children's books, perhaps most notably Little Dog and The Christmas Wish, which was recreated for Myer's iconic Christmas windows in Bourke Street, central Melbourne.
"Annie is the best chef in Australia to reproduce properly the traditional countryside food of France. Going to her kitchen is, for me, stepping back to my village with all the natural local products on hand, and the aromas of real food that excite your palate and your senses." - Chef Jacques Reymond "Smithers takes us into her one-acre vegie patch to build her seasonal menus from the ground up. You can smell the wood smoke, see the first asparagus spears pushing up through the straw, as she writes about the work involved in cooking at a level so palpably connected to the earth, the changes in the weather, "and my moods."" - Australian Financial Review "I want to cook every single recipe in this book. And I want to do it the way Annie Smithers intended" - The Northsider, Jo Rittey