Sunday, July 1, 2012

Jennifer Paterson - TV Chef and One of Two Fat Ladies

"We will serve that to the nuns with a bowl of mayonnaise on the side and I hope they'll love it. Ymmm, I would."

As you may have noticed, none of my previous Cool Cats have yet joined our family in heaven. This is because my mission is to show that cool people living out their faith is not a thing of the past. It’s super easy to get hung up on the antiquity of the famous saints, which is unfortunate considering that we should all be striving for sainthood and thus a closer relationship with God. Jennifer Paterson may have passed away over ten years ago, but her incredible show Two Fat Ladies is still on the air and still serving up chortles. Needless to say, she is well alive in our hearts and worth including.

To call miss Paterson a mere television chef would be like calling a Cinnabon a mere cinnamon roll. So much more, Paterson can be seen every episode driving her compatriot Clarissa Dickson Wright around the country in a motorcycle and a sidecar. If that didn't happen, it's because they were singing on a balcony in Brazil or digging a roasting pit in the Caribbean. Often episodes ended—after many minutes of friendly British bantering, copious amounts of butter, and jabs at vegetarians—with Paterson seated with a spirit in hand and proclaiming “cheers.”

Yes, she drank quite a bit, would light a cigarette after popping something in the oven, and drove her motorcycle like a mad woman, but she was also a devout Catholic. She loved Latin mass and even gave up drinking for lent. It is also perhaps no coincidence that she and Wright would cook for Benedictine nuns, choir boys, and the Westminster Cathedral before the series was through. Sparing her British humor from no one, the Telegraph claims that she used to pray, “Dear God, please stop all this in Yugoslavia, it's too terrible."

Paterson’s life before chef stardom begins with a military father who was stationed in China, Berlin, and the UK at various points. Her jobs were equally as varied, from stage assistant, to nanny, to matron, to writer and staff cook at a magazine. At the age of fifteen she was expelled from her boarding school for being “naughty.” Couple this with her tendency to drink, and you might read between the lines that she was a loose young adult. However, you’d be wrong, because she’s a good Catholic. She was also a beautiful woman known for her eccentricities, and she is proof that being among the faithful does not mean having a stifling or drab personality.

Sadly, or blessedly, she joined the heavenly feast August 10th, 1999. As her co-Fat Lady Clarissa Wright said, "Jennifer is no doubt sitting on a cloud, with her bike parked beside her, smoking a fag and discussing menus with St Peter, singing hymns with St Lucy and writing recipes with St Honoré before going off to lunch with Noel Coward." (Telegraph)

More on Jennifer Paterson:
Obituary in the Telegraph
Obituary on the BBC
Two Fat Ladies Cookbooks


  1. Wow. I had no idea she was Catholic. Their show was one of my favorites growing up. My dad's thing was westerns and my mom's thing was cooking I grew up with a love of Clint Eastwood movies and the Two Fat Ladies!

  2. thanks for sharing.