Australia

Cookbook legend Margaret Fulton dies aged 94

Australian cooking legend Margaret Fulton. Source: AAP

Australia's original celebrity chef Margaret Fulton has been remembered as the pioneer of a culinary revolution after her death aged 94.

The woman who taught Australia to cook has died.

Much-loved cooking matriarch and Australia's original celebrity chef Margaret Fulton has been remembered as the pioneer of a culinary revolution following her death on Wednesday aged 94.

Daughter Suzanne Gibbs said she was holding her mother's hands when she died.

"All through my childhood those hands meant so much to me ... cooking, cutting, sewing. I just treasured those hands of hers that did so much and just were so powerful," she told Nine News.

The 39-part Margaret Fulton Cookery Series introduced cooks to a world of flavours
The 39-part Margaret Fulton Cookery Series introduced cooks to a world of flavours
Brett Stevens

Granddaughter Louise Keats said the family had bought oysters - Fulton's "favourite" - for dinner to celebrate her life.

"Early this morning our family lost our most treasured, inspirational and loving mother and grandmother, Margaret Fulton," Ms Keats posted earlier on Instagram.

"Our hearts are too broken to respond to your messages right now, but we're deeply grateful for your love and support."

Tributes flowed from big names in Australia's culinary sector.

"Thank you for giving us courage and for showing we Australian women the way forward in the kitchen, ALL those years ago," Sydney chef Kylie Kwong posted on Instagram.

"We are so fortunate to have your rich spirit and beautiful recipes live on in your many cookbooks."

The Scottish-born author introduced Australia to a world of cooking in the 1960s and beyond, taking the country away from meat and three veg to exotic international cuisines, notably Italian, Asian and Mexican food.

Her foray into publishing was as a cookery writer for Woman magazine and then became food editor for Woman's Day.

READ MORE: There's something about Margaret

She went on to pen more than 20 books, including the seminal Margaret Fulton Cookbook in 1968 which has sold 1.5 million copies.

"She was so important at that time in Australia's life to show Australians that there was another path," celebrity chef Maggie Beer said.

Former MasterChef judge Matt Preston also joined those paying respect to the cookbook legend.

"She gave us one (of) the most useful Australian cookbooks ever written with her Encyclopaedia and Cookery," he told the Herald Sun.

"And she was instrumental in introducing the pressure cooker to Australia."

A message from cooking show personality Lyndey Milan on Instagram was brief, but personal: "Farewell irrepressible, inspirational friend #margaretfulton".

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.

Her most popular book featured not just familiar staples such as Irish stew, steak-and-kidney pie and pavlova, but also "international" recipes - gazpacho, vitello tonnato, sukiyaki, oriental spareribs and satays. Recipes had star ratings: one star for a quick dish suitable for a novice; three stars for something that required more skill and time.

The book was an immediate hit. "I think Australians responded to this enormous excitement that I was feeling about food," Ms Fulton said.

In her time as Woman's Day food editor, she travelled the world discovering more cuisines and recipes, a highlight being her compilation of "365 Ways with Mincemeat".

"I could remember what they were doing in Mexico and how the Lebanese woman handled it," she said.

The lessons were reciprocal. In 1979 she led a 23-day gourmet tour to China and taught the Chinese how to make sandwiches.

She was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1983, was named a Living National Treasure and nominated by The Bulletin magazine as one of Australia's most influential people.

Funeral details will be announced in coming days.

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