Australian production and distribution firm Arcadia has begun development of non-fiction best-selling book “Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer’s Tuscan Cookbook” as a feature film.
Envisaged in the style of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” or “Under the Tuscan Sun,” the feature film is currently in development and is being written by Australian film and television writer Katherine Thomson (Amazon TV series “A Place to Call Home,” feature documentary “Women He’s Undressed,” StudioCanal’s upcoming film “Helena!”).
Written by two of Australia’s most celebrated cooks and food writers, and published by Penguin, “Tuscan Cookbook,” took readers on a journey, beginning in 1977 when the pair left Australia to open a cooking school in a villa outside of Siena. It records their time in Italy, the dishes cooked, the places visited, people who made it happen and the guests who joined for the ride.
Arcadia has optioned the film rights to both the “Tuscan Cookbook” and Stephanie’s Journal, Alexander’s account of 1997, which saw: the opening of the Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder; the closure of the celebrated restaurant, Stephanie’s; the impact of The Cook’s Companion, published a year earlier; and the cooking schools in Tuscany with Beer.
The film will be produced by Lisa Shaunessy for Arcadia with Alexandra Burke on board as executive producer. Arcadia produced the Kodi Smit-McPhee-starring sci-fi hit “2067” (RLJE/Netflix), and recently saw its “Sissy” open the SXSW Midnighters section. The company is currently in production on sci-fi thriller “In Vitro,” starring “Succession” star Ashley Zukerman.
“There is a wonderful story of friendship and adventure within the pages of the ‘Tuscan Cookbook.’ It also struck me just how relevant their ideas on modern food production and preparation, indigenous rights, multiculturalism and gender equality are today,” said Burke.
“The ingredients are all there: two very different, hugely successful, creative, and generous women friends in their 50s, who make a promise the year before that they vow to keep: to take a much-needed break and set up a cooking school in Tuscany,” said Thomson. “But they’ve changed in the year since the decision was made and little do they know that even more fundamental transformation is on its way. Add the fallen gentry landlady, the guests with their own needs who reflect and challenge our girls; the gorgeous cooking and dining, Tuscany itself and the problems brewing back home in Australia and the narrative begins to take shape.”