Tributes to Marguerite Patten

Tributes to Marguerite Patten

Food writer and broadcaster Marguerite Patten CBE has died at the age of 99.

Her family has revealed that she died last week “from an illness stoically borne”, reports the Telegraph. Patten suffered from a stroke in 2011 and spent the remaining years of her life in a nursing home. 

Born in 1915, Patten was one of the first TV chefs, presenting her first cookery programme on the BBC in 1947. Among her many cookbooks was Century of British Cooking (Grub Street), first published in 1999 and set for reissue on 6th July, intended to mark the author's centenary. Her titles have recorded sales of 102,953 copies in the Nielsen BookScan era.  

Anne Dolamore of Grub Street told The Bookseller: "I was proud to be Marguerite Patten’s publisher for the past 15 years of her life. She was a joy to work with. Her recipes were accurate to a fault, her work that of a true professional. In my opinion she leaves a body of work in her consummate cookbooks that none today nor any cookery writer in future, will equal." Waterstones cookery buyer Bea Carvalho said: "We are all saddened by the death of one of Britain’s best loved cookery writers. Her books have provided a huge contribution to cookery publishing over the course of her distinguished career, and she has been an inspiration to many. We’re sure the upcoming reissue of her classic Century of British Cooking will inspire many more.”

Several well-known names from the world of food and entertainment paid tribute to Patten on social media with Jamie Oliver – who consulted her during his campaign for healthier school dinners – tweeting: “The world will be a lesser place without the talented Marguerite Patten. She inspired Jamie’s Ministry of Food, grateful for all the amazing work she did!”

French-born chef and restaurateur Michel Roux also said on Twitter: “So sad to hear the news about Marguerite Patten. Condolences to her family. She was an inspiration to millions and leaves a great legacy”. Meanwhile, broadcaster Jane Garvey wrote: “Before everyone else there was Marguerite Patten. Really fond memories of BBC Womans Hour programme with her in 2009. RIP #cookerylegend”. The radio show will feature a tribute to Patten today (Thursday 11th June).

The Guardian has published an obituary of Patten, in which it described her as "an icon for Britain’s entire culinary adventure since the second world war" and said she "introduced several generations to the ins and outs of the kitchen". It added: "Marguerite’s success was cemented by a series of mass-market books of 500 recipes – of sweet dishes, hors d’oeuvres, meat courses and so forth. These must have entered the kitchens of every modern home during this expansive and socially mobile decade [the 1960s]." 

Patten’s daughter Judith compiled an obituary of her mother for food magazine, Olive. In it, she wrote: “It is as an author that Marguerite Patten is perhaps best known. She wrote over 170 cookery books dealing with a vast range of subjects, Cookery In Colour (published by Paul Hamlyn in 1960) was the first colour cookery book and owners/users of it (and others of her titles) regularly write appreciative letters to Mrs Patten some 55 years after its publication.”

She also told the magazine that her mother “loved and lived for her world of cooking”.

Patten was awarded an OBE in 1991 for services to the Art of Cookery and a CBE in the Queen’s 2010 Birthday Honours.