Sunday's Kitchen by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan

Food and living at Heide

By Tricia Brown
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Sunday's Kitchen – Food and living at Heide

Sunday's Kitchen – Food and living at Heide [©The Miegunyah Press]


Sunday Reed was a passionate cook and gardener, who believed in home-grown produce, seasonal cooking and a communal table. Sunday’s Kitchen tells the story of food and living at Heide, the home of John and Sunday Reed, two of Australia’s most significant art benefactors.

Settling on a fifteen-acre property they named Heide (an affectionate abbreviation of 'Heidelberg') in the early 1930s, the Reeds transformed it from a run-down dairy farm into a fertile creative space for artists such as Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester and Charles Blackman.

As Jason Smith, Director and CEO of the Heide Museum of Modern Art says: "The art of living at Heide...encompassed a dynamic social and cultural milieu. Living sustainably, and therefore relatively simply, the Reeds integrated into their daily routine the labour of cultivation and a love of cooking and community."

The Reeds opened their home to artists, designers, writers, poets, musicians and other cultural figures, and Heide became a centre of creative and intellectual stimulation actively buoyed by the well-stocked library and larder, both of which were made available to visitors.

The result was a spirited and ambitious period of cultural achievement that has become integral to the history of art in Australia.

Born into Melbourne's wealthy Baillieu family, Sunday Reed studied painting but did not pursue a career as an artist instead becoming an important benefactor, supporter, collector and champion of modern art. She married John Reed in 1932 and after moving to Heide, gardening became a significant focus in her life as she was a dedicated and skilled gardener with a flair for the exotic.

"Sunday established a kitchen garden, growing produce that was unusual or rare in Australia at the time, and started a European ornamental garden that would capture the imagination of many visitors with its fragrant lavender hedge, roses and violet tunnel."

As Sunday was also an instinctive and experienced cook, fresh produce from her garden was of major importance for life at Heide with emphasis placed on diet and fresh food as a means to good health.

"Food was integral to the experience of Heide, though the meals, with the exception of special occasions, were not extravagant gastronomic fantasies but simply prepared and delectably fresh, enriched by the conversation and camaraderie." 

Whilst Sunday's recipes are at the heart of Sunday's Kitchen, we are given a much broader picture of daily life at Heide and it is truly fascinating. Experience one of the Reed’s famous ‘arvo’ teas as described by Mirka Mora, delight in some of Sunday’s Madeleines ordinaires, try Cabbage á la John as Barbara Blackman recalls and sip on Heide’s famous Peach Brandy.

Co-published with The State Library of Victoria and The Heide Museum of Modern Art, Sunday’s Kitchen is a behind-the-scenes look at Heide’s compelling and complex story. Richly illustrated with art, photographs – many previously unpublished – and recipes from Sunday’s personal collection.

“This book successfully brings to life what went on, the loves, the disagreements the strong personalities, the communal activities, the picnics, the breakfasts, the ‘arvo’ teas [at Heide] where many of the artists who would go on to become iconic figures enjoyed patronage, comfort, great conversation and a good dinner," – Stephanie Alexander.



Sunday's Kitchen by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan is published by The Miegunyah Press (Melbourne, 2011 PB) RRP A$49.99.

Sunday's Kitchen is also available via Booko here »



  • Melbourne (VIC)

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March 12th, 2012
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