Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The First TV Celebrity Cook

They have just announced the death of Marguerite Patten, the great cook - at the ripe old age of 99. I have nothing but admiration for this gracious lady. I was privileged to meet her in 2005, when she gave a talk in London. They'd just re-opened the Churchill War Rooms and Liz and Steph cleverly managed to get tickets to the event.
The three of us went to hear her lecture, the room was small, so there were not many of us there. She was 89 - yet she stood for over an hour and gave the most fascinating talk, without notes, about her wartime experiences, and teaching the nation how to cook on the ration. She was the first person to demonstrate cookery on the BBC - but always called herself a Home Economist, and loathed the term Celebrity Chef! After her talk, she spent ages signing cookbooks and chatting to us. She knew all about Leicester, and said she had given a talk in the DeMontfort Hall during WW2 - she was genuinely pleased to hear that I still followed her advice [handed down by my Mum] of putting a grated carrot into the Christmas pudding, to increase sweetness and keep it moist.
Unlike some older celebrity cooks, who seem to resent the younger generation who follow them into the spotlight, MP was always generous to a fault. Jamie Oliver and others have spoken of the way she encouraged them and helped them. She was interviewed by Chris Evans - and it was riveting to listen to her. 
My Mum had her 1960's "Cookery In Colour" [I wish I knew where it had gone, and still look for a copy in CS sometimes!] and frequently gave a copy as a wedding present to young brides at church. 
Next Monday is World Meat Free Day. Perhaps I should dig out one of my Marguerite Patten meatless wartime recipes and cook something in honour of Hilda Elsie Marguerite Patten - OBE, CBE, and recipient of the 2007 Woman Of The Year Lifetime Achievement Award. More than that, she helped millions of women produce tasty and nourishing meals for their families from the most meagre of resources. 
Marguerite Patten, 1915 - 2015 RIP


  1. I was saddened to hear of her passing today. I have her three WWII era cook books and have often cooked and baked from them (as a vegetarian I tweak the meat based recipes). My husband loves the puddings in these books but drew the line at the mock cream I whipped up, he still shudders at the memory!

  2. Yes- I made a batch of disastrous mock cream too. Perhaps we have got so used to the 'real' stuff - wartime children would have possibly been grateful for such a treat, even if it was ersatz.

  3. I was very sad to hear this. I've long been a fan and have an awful lot of her books and use her recipes regularly. In my last year at junior school, 1975 I think, I'd be 12, we were taken to a MP cookery demonstration at The Victoria Hall in Stoke-on-Trent, must have been Summer, I recall it was a lovely, hot, sunny day. I don't think it was arranged by the school, as such, I think our rather elderly teacher was a fan ;-)
    Anyhoo. I was charmed by her, even at such a young age. The thing I remember most clearly though - she SLAMMED the oven door on a cheese souffle - to prove it would still rise, regardless. Such confidence! And such encouragement! I think she is the *most* 'enabling' high profile chef of any generation.

  4. I have two of her cookery books which my Mum and Auntie gave me in the early 70s, including Cookery in Colour and I still use them more than any others.


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