Culinary icon Margaret Fulton passed away at the age of 94 on Wednesday. The Scottish-born chef, food writer, Woman’s Day editor and cookbook author is often credited as being “Australia’s first domestic goddess”, and was the first to introduce the country’s home cooks to the then-exotic cuisines of Italy, China, and beyond.
Her first published book, The Margaret Fulton Cookbook, was a runaway success when it was released in 1968, and remains one of the most celebrated and influential volumes in our nation’s cookery canon. She wrote 20 books over the course of her career, which sold 1.5 million copies, and was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1983 and named one of Australia’s 100 Living Treasures in 1998 for her contributions to the field.
Former Time Out Food and Drink Editor Myffy Rigby interviewed the legendary household name herself for our November 2012 issue. We had a dig through the archives, and present you with some pearls of wisdom from that conversation:
On her career beginnings:
"I was Australia’s first celebrity chef. I started early, when nobody wanted to be a cook or a chef. Then people saw I was having a good time – being invited all over the world – and they caught on that I had the best job in the world. They wanted to do it too, and they started writing books."
On life in Sydney:
"Back in the day I lived in the Rocks – and it was wild. The Newcastle Hotel was at the bottom of the street and all the artists and journos would come to my place with their friends when it was six o’clock. They really wanted to keep on drinking. My daughter was ten at the time and we never had any family meals because there was always this strange mob there. I tried to stop them coming. Sometimes I was successful, other times I wasn’t."
On colourful neighbours:
"I lived across from the best diamond cutter in Australia, but she was a bit of a drunk. Sometimes she’d get on the booze and you’d hear her yelling her head off. She was the most unlikely looking best diamond cutter in Australia."
On Australian food culture:
"Australians have changed their approach to the kitchen. After I did my book, if the wives made my roast pork with prunes, the husbands used to say, 'I know you’re busy dear, but I like my dessert on a second plate.' Now the husbands are the ones wanting to go to cooking classes."
"I respect innovators. It’s when you start doing something different with food that you stand out. It’s like when Jørn Utzon built the Sydney Opera House; he changed the way a building like that could look. I think to be first is the best."
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