I was born in London at the end of The Battle of Britain, during The Blitz. The family moved to Gloucestershire at the end of the war when my parents had a change of career and took over a hotel. I was a student at The Gloucestershire Training College of Domestic Science and gained a Diploma in Institutional Management in 1961. As a career in the catering industry was not compatible with married life, particularly to that with a RAF Officer, I followed the flag around the world and enjoyed life bringing up two little boys. We lived in Berkshire, Sussex, Singapore, Cyprus, Somerset, Suffolk, Rutland, Germany, Wiltshire and South Africa and I have now, at last, returned to Gloucestershire and have no intention of moving again.In Cyprus in the late 1960s I was involved in the publication of a cookery book called the Cyprus Cooks Calendar, which gave me an insight into writing a cookery book and I had a couple of my recipes published in that. In Germany in the late 1970s I had the opportunity to write the English cookery version of an American diet book for arthritics. The book ‘Diet for Life’ was published by Pan in 1980. Hamlyn bought the title and published it as part of a set of glossy dietary books, which was great, as I got to work with their home economists doing the photography. ‘Diet for Life’ was translated into French and Serbo Croat! In the late 1980s I edited The Malmesbury Abbey Cook Book, which was sold to raise funds for The Abbey.As I began to do more teaching of adults I re-trained as a Lecturer in Further Education at The Lady Spencer College in Oxford, and gained my Teacher’s Certificate in 1981. After this I taught full-time at both Swindon and Chippenham Colleges of Further Education. A spell in South Africa in 1990 curtailed my full-time teaching and, on returning to the UK in 1992, I set up my own small catering company called Cuisinières. When we moved from Crudwell, across the county border into Tetbury in 2002, I fully retired and have enjoyed putting together this book of recipes and anecdotes, which have played a large part in my life over the past 60 plus yearsINTERVIEW:Margo, you have certainly lived in a lot of different places. Can you tell us a little bit about the cultures you like best?I have been very influenced by Mediterranean Cooking and this dates from my time living in Cyprus in the late 60s. Herbs, Olive Oil, long cooking methods, vegetables and salads. I have also been greatly influenced by my training in all the basic culinary skills. With the basics known the world is your oyster as far as recipes are concerned.Can you tell us what are your favourite recipes, and where you learnt to cook them?
Difficult as I have many favourites. Up among the top would be Lamb Kleftico which I learnt to make in Cyprus. I never get tired of it and it always impresses. Served with Cabbage Salad.
Where do your children live? Have they inherited your gift for cooking?
My elder son, Duncan, now lives in Canada and he travels all over the world in his job as an air survey pilot. He can cook and makes a mean Spaghetti Bolognese. His younger brother Antony lives in Avening about 3 miles from Tetbury and he is a very good cook so I suppose he has inherited a few more of my gifts.
Can you remember the first thing you ever cooked?
In the early 50s when TV was very new, I remember watching probably the first TV chef a guy called Philip Harben. He cooked a dish called “SPO”. It was a rather special bangers and mash. I remember making this for the family and they all loved the onions which were soaked in milk, dusted with flour and deep fried. I was about 12 at the time. I had actually forgotten this until you asked and the recipe, sadly, is not in the book!
Any other comments?
I am passionate about families sitting around a table and eating together. This is how you build relationships and keep up with each others lives. Eating in front of the TV on a regular basis is, I think, one of the scourges of modern life.
THIS BOOK IS NOW SOLD OUT. Sorry.