A who’s who of Australia’s culinary and publishing circles have gathered to celebrate the life of renowned food writer Margaret Fulton at a State Memorial Service in Sydney.
- Ms Fulton’s famous 1968 cookbook has sold more than $1.5 million copies
- She arrived in Australia from Scotland at the age of three, the youngest of six children
- She published 25 cookbooks over her career and ran a cookery with her daughter Suzanne
Ms Fulton, best-known for writing The Margaret Fulton Cookbook in 1968, died in July aged 94.
More than 200 mourners — including chef Matt Moran, food author Maggie Beer and restaurant critic and journalist Leo Schofield — were welcomed by celebrated bagpiper Robert Pearce, in a tribute to Ms Fulton’s Scottish heritage.
Emcee Mike Carlton told those gathered at the Art Gallery of New South Wales that Ms Fulton had “blazed a trail”, introducing Australian families to better food.
“We cook better, we eat better and I think we probably have more fun because of her,” he said.
Margaret Fulton began her career as a cookery demonstrator in Sydney in the 1940s. (Facebook: Margaret Fulton, I Sang For My Supper)
Mr Carlton recounted growing up in a time when Australian food was “pretty bloody ordinary”, when chicken was a luxury served only on Christmas Day.
Mr Carlton told the crowd that when Ms Fulton wrote “pineapple can bring a delightful Hawaiian touch to your meals” his own mother had taken the advice to heart.
“Seizing on this daring innovation, my mother went mad and we went through a stage of adding pineapple to everything — pineapple sausages I recall at one stage.”
‘Food turned a bad day into good’
Variously known as “Mum Fulton”, “Australia’s original domestic goddess” and the “doyenne of dining”, Ms Fulton published 25 cookbooks throughout her career, including her 1968 classic, which sold more than 1.5 million copies.
She was a food editor for Woman’s Day and in 1998 was named an Australian Living Treasure by the National Trust of Australia.
Ms Fulton came to Australia at age three from Nairn in the Scottish Highlands.
The youngest of six children, the family settled in Glen Innes in north-western NSW.
Cooking personality Lyndey Milan said Ms Fulton learned the value and importance of the family meal from her parents, and “to shop wisely, to cook and to think for herself”.
“Though times were tough, [Margaret] said: ‘I was brought up in a home where food turned a bad day into a good, and a good day into a celebration’.”
Ms Fulton sent her daughter, Suzanne Gibbs, off to learn Cordon Bleu cooking school in London and together they later created a cookery of their own.
Ms Fulton’s granddaughters, Louise Keats and food writer Kate Gibbs, shared 10 life lessons they learned from her, including her advice to “set the table properly, even for a weeknight meal for one … don’t wait for the special occasion — you are the special occasion”.
“Don’t tell your guests what’s for dinner,” Ms Keats recounted her grandmother saying.
“We all have kitchen disasters, even Margaret Fulton. You never know when roast chicken might need to become chicken soup, or when your pavlova might be destined for an eaten mess.”
Mourners were played a series of media appearances Ms Fulton made over the years, and towards the end of the service they were treated to a performance from Margaret Fulton: The Musical, which premiered in 2012.
Ms Fulton’s family requested that instead of floral tributes donations be made to the Bargo Dingo Sanctuary.