Margaret Fulton

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Margaret Fulton
Margaret Fulton at Entertainment Quarter, Fox Studios, Sydney, September 2012.jpg
Margaret Fulton at Entertainment Quarter, Fox Studios, Sydney, September 2012
Born (1924-10-06) 6 October 1924 (age 94)
Culinary career

Margaret Isobel Fulton OAM (born 6 October 1924)[1] is a Scottish-born Australian food and cooking 'guru', writer, journalist, author, and commentator. She was the first of this genre of writers in Australia.[2]

Her early recipes encouraged Australian housewives to alter the Australian staple of "meat and three vegetables" and to be creative with food. She 'discovered' international cuisine from exotic places such as Spain, Italy, India and China and as Cookery Editor, 'brought these into Australian homes through her articles in the Woman's Day magazine'.[3]

Fulton realised that chefs who did television shows tended to lose their audience. Accordingly, she remained a writer who regularly appeared only as a 'guest' on various TV shows.

Early life and career[edit]

Fulton was born in Nairn, Scotland in 1924. When she was three, her parents emigrated to Australia, settling in Glen Innes, New South Wales.

She began as a cooking teacher at the Overseas Corporation in 1947 and was later promoted to sales manager where she was 'partially responsible for the introduction of the pressure cooker to Australia'.[3]

In 1954, Fulton, then a 'home economist for a leading firm of cereal manufacturers', gave a talk on 'cooking with ready-to-eat cereals'.[4] She told the audience that 'with more wives and mothers working, speed and ease in food preparation is a "must"'. She continued 'Many women have no training in homemaking, and packaged and ready-prepared foods, like cereals, cake, pastry and biscuit mixes, canned and frozen foods, make life easier'.[4] A selection of 'hot muffins made with bran' were handed out and Fulton told the listeners that 'These are quick and easy to make and most economical'.[4]

In 1956, over four days, Fulton provided French cooking demonstrations.[5] Each day was organised with a different 'well-known French hostess, resident in Sydney' who 'planned a menu, contributed the recipes, helped with the cooking, and arranged the table setting'.[5]

Fulton began to appear in advertisements in the late 1950s. She promoted 'Johnson's Glo-coat' floor polish and 'Johnson's Pride' surface polish from her 'well appointed Sydney kitchen' in March 1957.[6] Later that year readers of The Australian Women's Weekly were told 'Margaret Fulton, expert Home Economist' believed Sellotape 'is so dependable' in a full page colour ad, which also offered Fulton's handy hints for using the product such as sealing plastic bags 'for deep-freezing foods' and binding pot handles.[7] In 1959, Fulton told readers she used Sellotape 'each week for sticking my hundreds of recipe clippings into reference books'.[8]

Prospective buyers of Woman's Day magazine in July 1964 were promised an '8-page liftout' from Fulton who was known for her Tuesday 'cookery class' at Sydney's 'Bistro'.[9] Fulton's regular contributions continued throughout the decade with 1968's 'lift-out full colour' recipe guide to Italian food which was described by the magazine as 'our most exciting... ever!'.[10]

1960s & 1970s[edit]

Fulton's book, The Margaret Fulton Cookbook, was published by Paul Hamlyn in 1968 and was an instant success. By 1978 it had sold 'more than two-thirds of a million copies'.[11]

Bowl of fried rice & chopsticks
Fulton helped to popularise Chinese cuisine in Australia

She returned to the Italian theme with the release of her 'Italian Cookbook' in 1973.[12] The Canberra Times said the recipes were 'simple, tested... and where necessary adapted to suit the local scene' however Fulton was 'able to add authenticity to the book by taking a trip to Italy and checking the fare at first hand'.[12] The author was quoted as recommending that cooks 'look for the specialty ingredients in a good delicatessen or gourmet section of a large retail stores.[12] Use only the best quality Italian olive oil and when using grating cheese like Parmesan or Romano, buy it in wedges and grate it as you need it.'[12]

In October 1973, Fulton was appointed to the Federal Government's 'Interim Commission on Consumer Standards' which was formed to 'reach as many groups as possible' and 'find the areas where action' on standards was 'most urgent'.[13]

Interviewed in 1975, she provided Italian and 'Chinese style' recipes for readers and included in her advice for 'young people setting up home for the first time' was that they should 'buy a couple of really good saucepans and, if possible, invest in an iron oven casserole... they last a lifetime and these days are so attractive that they can be taken to the table'.[14]

Following on from the popularity of late 1970s BBC television drama series The Duchess of Duke Street, set in London between 1900 and 1925, Fulton had a primetime TV cooking show of 5-minute episodes based on recipes from the era.[15]

In 1979, her interest in Chinese cuisine led to her leading a planned '23-day gourmet food tour' which would include 'the finest restaurants' of Canton, Shanghai, Tsinan, Tsingtao, Kunming and Peking.[16] Fulton said the tour would also visit 'historical sites... communes, universities, factories and handcraft institutes'.[16] She also hoped there would be 'a chance to see acupuncture procedures in a Chinese hospital'.[16]

Later life & influence[edit]

Fulton was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the 1983 Queen's Birthday Honours 'In recognition of service to the media as a journalist and writer in the field of cookery'.[17]

Fulton's encouragement of Chinese cuisine was recognised as a contributor to the development of Sydney's Chinatown district where 'few non-Chinese' ventured 'before the 1950s'.[18] Fulton was one of the writers who 'began serving up Chinese recipes to Menzies' Australia' (recalling the era of Robert Menzies as Prime Minister from 1949 to 1966) and, as a result, Chinatown's 'few eating houses were seen as a welcome alternative to the spartan cuisine of the times'.[18]

In 1998, Fulton was added to the list of 100 Australian Living Treasures by the National Trust of Australia.[19] The same year, a packaged meals business venture 'Margaret Fulton's kitchen' which Fulton had been involved with her daughter and fellow chef Suzanne Gibbs and 'Sydney food luminary' Anders Ousback, failed.[20]

In 2006 The Bulletin named Fulton in their list of 'The 100 most influential Australians'.[21] In the citation they described her as someone who 'changed the way Australians ate at home'. She is, they wrote, 'Australia's original domestic goddess. No cookery writer since can claim her blanket influence... Fulton turned us into foodies.'[22]

Interviewed by The Australian Women's Weekly in 2009, she said:

"Scarcely a week passes when I'm not invited to speak at a food industry or fundraising function and I always try to accept. At my age, being asked to pass on what I've learned is a pleasure and a privilege."[23]

Honours and awards[edit]


Fulton has written many books, including:

  • The Margaret Fulton Cookbook (various editions)
  • Margaret Fulton's Encyclopaedia of Food and Cookery
  • The Margaret Fulton crock-pot cook book
  • I sang for my supper : memories of a food writer
  • Margaret Fulton's Book of ices & cold desserts
  • Restaurant Dishes of the World
  • Encyclopaedia of Food and Cookery
  • My very special cookbook
  • Margaret Fultons New Cookbook
  • Margaret Fulton's Book of Pasta & Pizzas
  • Margaret Fulton's Book of Microwave Cooking
  • Margaret Fulton's Creative cookery course
  • Margaret Fulton Christmas
  • Margaret Fulton Christmas Favorites


  1. ^ Australian Biography Interview
  2. ^ Australian Biography, accessed 1 May 2007
  3. ^ a b Preston, Matt (16 September 2003). "The fire in Fulton's belly". The Age. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  4. ^ a b c "Cereals Make Cooking Economical And Easy". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 2 November 1954. p. 14. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Food with a French accent". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 16 May 1956. p. 66. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  6. ^ "Advertising". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 13 March 1957. p. 24. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  7. ^ "Advertising". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 19 June 1957. p. 48. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  8. ^ "Advertising". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 21 September 1959. p. 7. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  9. ^ "Advertising". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 20 July 1964. p. 6. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  10. ^ "Advertising". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 27 June 1968. p. 18. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  11. ^ "THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BOOKS AND MERCHANDISE". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 28 October 1978. p. 14. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  12. ^ a b c d "LIFE STYLE THE HOME COOKING THE ITALIAN WAY". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 25 July 1973. p. 18. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  13. ^ "First meeting of consumer bodv". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 24 October 1973. p. 9. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  14. ^ "COOKING EXPERT VISITS". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 30 April 1975. p. 14. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  15. ^ "Channel 3". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 3 March 1978. p. 20. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  16. ^ a b c "Margaret Fulton to lead tour". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 1 October 1979. p. 8. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  17. ^ Australian Government. "Its An Honour". Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  18. ^ a b "THE LORDS OF CHINATOWN". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 2 February 1986. p. 50. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  19. ^ "National Living Treasures". Archived from the original on 29 January 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  20. ^ Dennis, Anthony (4 June 2004). "Gourmet's take-away dream collapses". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  21. ^ "The 100 most influential Australians". Sydney Morning Herald. 27 June 2006. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  22. ^ "The 100 most influential Australians". Bulletin with Newsweek. 124 (6527): 49–105. 4 July 2006.
  23. ^ Writer, Larry (1 October 2009). "Forever Young". the Australian Women's Weekly. 79 (10): 108–110.
  24. ^ [1], 12 December 2006
  25. ^ "Champagne toast to Fulton's skills". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 6 March 1986. p. 7 Supplement: the good times a supplement to The Canberra Times. Retrieved 2 September 2013.

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