Jennifer Paterson

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Jennifer Paterson
Born Jennifer Mary Paterson
(1928-04-03)3 April 1928
Kensington, London, England
Died 10 August 1999(1999-08-10) (aged 71)
South Kensington, London, England
Cause of death Lung cancer
Resting place Putney Vale Cemetery, London
51°26′25″N 0°14′18″W / 51.440358°N 0.238202°W / 51.440358; -0.238202
Nationality British
Occupation Celebrity chef, actress
Years active 1996–99
Television Two Fat Ladies (1996–99)

Jennifer Mary Paterson (3 April 1928 – 10 August 1999) was a British celebrity chef, actress and television personality who appeared on the television programme Two Fat Ladies with Clarissa Dickson Wright.

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.

Personal life[edit]

Paterson's life was as unconventional as her on-screen persona suggested. She 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."[1]

Paterson was expelled from convent school at 15 for being disruptive.[2]

Paterson later became a matron at a girls' boarding school near Reading 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."[3]

A small granite headstone among other gravestones
Paterson's grave at Putney Vale Cemetery, London, in 2015

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.[4] She asked for caviar for her last meal but died before she could eat it. Following a traditional Funeral Mass, she was cremated at Putney Vale Crematorium and her ashes were interred in the cemetery there.

She was survived by an uncle, Anthony Bartlett OBE (who died in 2000), a close associate of Cardinal Basil Hume, to whom he was Gentiluomo.

Paterson was a parishioner of the London Oratory. She would cook for the congregation and clergy on a weekly basis. A portrait of her hangs in the kitchen of Oratory House.


Paterson produced two solo cookbooks; Feast Days: Recipes from the Spectator published in 1990 was pre Two Fat Ladies and Seasonal Receipts was published in 1999 shortly before her death. Also in 1997 Jennifer's Diary: The Diary of One Fat Lady was published and posthumously Enjoy!: A Celebration of Jennifer Paterson -Tribute to a Fat Lady by Her Friends was published in 2000.[5]

DVD release[edit]

The Two Fat Ladies DVD set contains a 40-minute BBC tribute to Paterson that aired in 2004. 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.[6]


External links[edit]