Jennifer Paterson

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Jennifer Paterson
Jennifer Mary Paterson

(1928-04-03)3 April 1928
Kensington, London, England
Died10 August 1999(1999-08-10) (aged 71)
Chelsea, London, England
Resting placePutney Vale Cemetery, London
51°26′25″N 0°14′18″W / 51.440358°N 0.238202°W / 51.440358; -0.238202
Occupation(s)Celebrity cook, actress, food journalist
Years active1982–99
TelevisionTwo Fat Ladies (1996–99)

Jennifer Mary Paterson (3 April 1928 – 10 August 1999) was a British celebrity cook, author, actress and television personality who appeared on the television programme Two Fat Ladies (1996–1999) with Clarissa Dickson Wright. Prior to this, she wrote a cookery column both for The Spectator and for The Oldie.[1]

The pair were famous for their rich traditional meals made from scratch. Paterson was known for her liberal use of butter and cream, remarking on her television show in her usual manner with a shake of the hand, that yoghurt was only fit for vegetarians and those with "a poor tummy". They travelled to filming locations throughout the UK on Paterson's Triumph Thunderbird motorbike with Dickson Wright occupying the sidecar.

Life and career[edit]

Paterson came from an Army family, of which she later wrote, "My mother had no idea of how to cook and no wish to learn, existing on gorgonzola, coffee, and chocolates after the demise of any form of servant. My father, having gone through two World Wars, was far too frightened to put on a kettle and my brothers, who married young to very good wives... never showed any signs of wanting to whip up something delicious for a treat."[2]

Paterson was expelled from convent school at 15 for being disruptive.[3] Paterson later worked at Padworth College, an unusual girls' boarding school near Reading where she rejoiced in the title of social secretary, before ending up as a cook for the Ugandan Legation in London and becoming a well-known figure on the London party circuit. She worked on the ITV show Candid Camera and later became a food writer for The Spectator; for 15 years, she provided weekly lunches for personalities, including the Prince of Wales. She later wrote a book of recipes and reminiscences from her time at The Spectator entitled Feast Days, Recipes from The Spectator, in the introduction to which the English writer A. N. Wilson professed, "Jennifer Paterson is the best cook I know."[4]

A small granite headstone among other gravestones

Paterson was a committed Roman Catholic who never married or had any children. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in July 1999 and died a month later in London.[3] She asked for caviar for her last meal but died before she could eat it. Following a traditional requiem mass, she was cremated at Putney Vale Crematorium and her ashes were interred in the cemetery there.

Paterson was a parishioner of the London Oratory,[5] and in her will, she left them a bequest that is used to fund their choir programme.[6]


  • Feast Days: Recipes from the Spectator (ISBN 978-0719548482) (1991)
  • Two Fat Ladies: Gastronomic Adventures with Clarissa Dickson Wright (1996)
  • Jennifer's Diary: By One Fat Lady (ISBN 978-1901170054) (1997 )
  • Two Fat Ladies Ride Again with Clarissa Dickson Wright (1997)
  • Seasonal Receipts (ISBN 978-0747276197) (1998)
  • Two Fat Ladies Full Throttle with Clarissa Dickson Wright (1998)
  • Two Fat Ladies – Obsessions with Clarissa Dickson Wright (1999)
  • Enjoy!: A Celebration of Jennifer Paterson – Tribute to a Fat Lady by Her Friends (ISBN 978-0747272878) 2000.
  • The Very Best of Two Fat Ladies : Over 150 Favourite Recipes from Their Best Selling Books with Clarissa Dickson Wright (Ebury Publishing, 2000)

Forewords written[edit]

  • Indian Cooking by Savitri Chowdhary (Cookery Classics – September 1, 1999)


Motion picture[edit]

  • Fish and Milligan (1966) Lady Director
  • Caravaggio (1986) As an Extra
  • What Rats Won't Do (1998) as Justice Bradley

DVD release[edit]

The Two Fat Ladies DVD set contains a 40-minute BBC tribute to Paterson that aired in 1999 (Ending Credits). The DVD box set was released in the United States in July 2008. The Acorn Media release contains all 24 episodes across four discs. The show had been released in Britain as a Region 2 DVD set.[7]


  1. ^ Owen, Emma (11 August 1999). "Jennifer Paterson death". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  2. ^ Jennifer Paterson (1990). Feast Days, Recipes from The Spectator (London: John Murray Publishers), p. xi.
  3. ^ a b Nemy, Enid (11 August 1999). "Jennifer Paterson, 71, Dies; TV Cook From 'Fat Ladies'". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  4. ^ Paterson, Feast Days, p. v.
  5. ^ Barrow, Andrew (11 August 1999). "Obituary: Jennifer Paterson". The Independent. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  6. ^ "Supporting the Future". The London Oratory. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  7. ^ "New DVDs: 'Two Fat Ladies,' in full". DVD Spin Doctor. 26 July 2008. Retrieved 4 October 2018.

External links[edit]