MARGARET Fulton – a much-loved cooking matriarch credited with “teaching Australia how to cook” – has died aged 94.
The Scottish-born author of many popular cookbooks and guest on several cooking TV shows had been living in the NSW Southern Highlands, says Australian Associated Press.
A statement on behalf of her family was issued today confirming Margaret’s death.
It said: “The family of Margaret Fulton is today mourning the loss of their loving, inspirational and treasured mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
“Margaret Fulton died peacefully this morning with her family close by.”
Her granddaughter, Kate Gibbs, a food and travel writer, told Delicious that her family was mourning her passing.
She posted about her grandmother’s death on Instagram, sharing photos of the cooking legend.
Gibbs wrote: “Our hearts are too broken to respond to your messages right now, but we’re deeply grateful for your love and support.”
The youngest in a family of three boys and three girls, Fulton was born near Inverness in northern Scotland before migrating to Australia aged three.
The Canberra Times said that “Fulton, more than anyone else, introduced Australians to the culinary delights of the world and weaned them off the traditional meat and three veg.
“She was Australia’s first celebrity chef, long before the species became a television staple.”
When it came to cooking, Margaret favoured simplicity, and plenty of fresh ingredients, resisting “little squirts of this and overly complex flavours”.
During the Second World War, she worked in a parachute factory, and tested plane parts in a laboratory.
But she managed to leave the role by faking a pregnancy.
That led to a job at a gas company where she baked cakes and pastry, to promote the benefits of cooking with gas, the Times added.
Margaret went on to become food editor of the Woman’s Day magazine, and penned more than 25 titles including the popular Margaret Fulton Cookbook during her lengthy career.
She was the first person to teach visually impaired people how to cook.
The Canberra Times wrote that while she enjoyed a fantastic career, her “personal life was messy with two failed marriages”.
She said: “I can’t understand in life how I was so sensible about a lot of things and I was so stupid about men.”
Margaret ended up raising her daughter, Suzanne, also a well-known cook, “largely as a single mother”.
She described London-born actor/director Michael McKeag, who was known for Vice Versa (1948) and Harlequin (1980) as the “love of my life”. He died in Sydney in 1988.
Australian broadcaster ABC said Margaret confessed that she was not a good businesswoman, and lost a lot of her earnings throughout her career, “including in a failed pre-prepared food business”.
Margaret, who refused to retire despite undergoing a quadruple bypass 14 years ago, was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1983, and named an Australian National Treasure.
Funeral details and a further family statement are expected in coming days.