WWII Cooking Legend Marguerite Patten's Devastating 2015 Death

Marguerite Patten is still well known for her straightforward approach to cooking, even after her death in 2015. This is reinforced by her 170 books on the subject (via New York Times), which include titles like: "500 Recipes for Working Wives," "ABC of Simple Cooking," and "Budget Meals," per Cook's Info. Patten's attitude came in handy during World War II, yet originated further back.

She was born Hilda Elsie Marguerite Brown in 1915. When her father passed away in 1928, Marguerite started helping her single, working mother by cooking. In an interview with the Telegraph, Patten made it clear school still took priority; "I helped a little bit in the holidays," she said. Nonetheless, Marguerite made rabbit pie and often picked and preserved produce from their garden. As a young adult, she took a cooking course before finding a job as a home economist. For a brief time, Marguerite joined an acting troupe. These somewhat disparate backgrounds set the stage for her ultimate career path.

A couple of years into WWII, Britain's Ministry of Food hired Marguerite to teach others practical cooking skills for wartime rationing. Around this time, Marguerite took the name, Patten. As one of the first "celebrity chefs" (a title Patten rejected in favor of "home economist"), Patten debuted on BBC Radio right before the war ended. Then, she published her first cookbook and appeared on television after victory was declared. By that point, Patten was a well-known culinary personality who still advocated for resourcefulness.

Patten's legacy lives on

Post-war, Patten continued to present and write about useful cooking information and was eventually decorated for her contributions to British society (via Cook's Info). When she was 70, Patten attempted to retire but found it didn't suit her and quickly returned to work for another couple of decades, as she once told Telegraph. Toward the end of her life, Patten developed arthritis but took up a special diet to manage it and wrote her recipe book aimed at those with arthritis. She was a practical and determined individual.

In 2011, Patten had a stroke that sadly left her unable to work (something she still enjoyed) or speak, according to The Guardian. Afterward, Patten's daughter would make and bring her custard on a near-daily basis, allowing her mother to enjoy one of her favorite baked goods still. One can only imagine that she appreciated this sweet yet simple gesture. Unfortunately, Patten passed away around four years later, in 2015, "from an illness stoically borne," as her family had explained.

Even having lived nearly a century, Patten's death was still devastating, and she is certainly missed. Her legacy continues to be an ever-present inspiration for anyone trying to feed themselves easily and affordably. Patten is reported to have approved locally-sourced and organic foods and applied wartime practicality to modern challenges. She might have started as a 20th-century home economist, but her work in practical cooking is still indispensable to this day.