Alexander and Beer’s excellent adventure – three groups of students for nine days at a time, with only a day or two to recuperate and schedule between them, followed by what Beer calls a three-week “house party, with revolving doors and several friends” . – produced two books: Tuscan cookbook, co-authored by the pair and eventually translated into numerous languages (including, to their delight, Italian); and Stephanie’s Diaryan account of a year of major upheavals in her life, including the difficult decision to close her award-winning Melbourne restaurant.
Now boutique production and distribution company Arcadia, based in Orange, NSW and responsible for the Netflix film 2067has opted for both books, with plans to make a film that, if all goes well, will be filmed next year – in Italy, of course.
Think of it as a Best Exotic Marigold Cooking Schoolif you will, sprinkled with colorful guest characters but revolving around the two women and their shared love of hospitality.
“It’s a story about how friendships transform us,” Thomson says. “It’s a story of two women who are about to make some very challenging decisions, against the backdrop of Tuscany.”
It won’t be all Chianti and laughter though, as their bond comes under strain from the pressure of all those guests and the looming life changes that await them on their return to Australia.
“They are very different personalities and this could be the moment when they break up,” Thomson says. “A female friendship is akin to a love affair and a commitment, and you don’t let your friends go easily, especially if you’re in your 50s like they were then.”
Of course, the first question anyone wants answered is, who will play these titans of taste?
“That has become our party game,” says Alexander. “A lot of names have been mixed up and after a few drinks they get more extreme.”
“You have to remember that we were 25 years younger,” says Beer. “So, you know, that’s a very special casting net that can be cast.”
The choice isn’t theirs, of course, but if it were, which big fish would they most like to land on?
“Well, I can say that my neighbor Miranda liked Otto for me,” says Alexander.
“And my husband Colin found Claudia Karvan for me,” says Beer, “which I thought was the best compliment in my life”.