Pioneering cookery writer and broadcaster Marguerite Patten sold millions of books worldwide and was awarded an OBE and a CBE. FLORA THOMPSON looks back at her life.

MARGUERITE Patten became a household name for inspiring cooking on a budget.

However, she had once dreamt of being an actress.

After growing up in High Barnet, Hertfordshire, she originally had ambitions to take to the stage - not the kitchen.

She won a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art but turned it down because she realised her mother could never afford the fees.

In an interview with The Argus in 2009 she said the experience helped her cope with the large audiences she would later encounter in her culinary career.

Her brief acting career also no doubt helped when things didn’t quite go according to plan in front of the camera, such as the time a disgruntled housewife used Marguerite’s live television spot to make an angry public appeal for more housekeeping money.

“She said, ‘You tell my husband to give me more money’. It was one of my worst memories. I shall remember it forever.”

Putting acting to one side, it was during the Second World War that she honed her skills regarding cooking on a budget.

She worked as a war-time adviser at the Ministry of Food and taught families to eat well during rationing, making the most of foods like fake cream (margarine, cornmeal and sugar) and Spam.

She later landed a job at Harrods after which her career took off and she settled in Brighton.

She was a regular contributor on Radio 4's Woman's Hour from 1946 and made her final appearance in 2011.

She also presented her own history of British cooking on the station.

She made her first television appearance in 1947 and was a regular on shows including Cookery Club, Food And Drink, Masterchef and Ready Steady Cook.

Her cookery demonstration show was so popular that she sold out the London Palladium and toured around the world.

Always playing down the label of herself as a celebrity chef, Mrs Patten said she would remain a "home economist" until the day she died.

However, she was hailed as the “cookery icon of our times” by TV chef Ainsley Harriott and was a “good friend” of Jamie Oliver.

Mrs Patten was awarded an OBE in 1991 and a CBE in 2010 in recognition of her career.

She made few mistakes in her long career but once told The Argus about one she would never forget one – the time she attempted to celebrate eggs coming off ration and the Queen’s Coronation with a cake.

“It was 1953 and I was going to make the perfect Swiss Roll. I explained it was absolutely essential that your oven was the right temperature, only to realise I’d forgotten to switch it on.

“Do you know, for years I met people at demonstrations who said, ‘Do you remember the time you forgot to turn the oven on?’ I could hardly forget!”

She died in June aged 99 following a battle with illness.