Fanny Craddock and Apthorp blue plaque in London

Fanny Craddock 1909 – 1994. On this site until 1930 stood a house called Apthorp, birthplace of the famous TV cookery expert Fanny Craddock; born Phyllis Pechey

Phyllis Nan Sortain Pechey (26 February 1909 – 27 December 1994), better known as Fanny Cradock, was an English restaurant critic, television cook and writer frequently appearing on television, at cookery demonstrations and in print with Major Johnnie Cradock who played the part of a slightly bumbling husband.Fanny Cradock came to the attention of the public in the postwar-utility years, trying to inspire the average housewife with an exotic approach to cooking. She famously worked in various ball-gowns without the customary cook’s apron, averring that women should feel cooking was easy and enjoyable, rather than messy and intimidating.In her early anonymous role as a food critic, working with Major Cradock under the name of ‘Bon Viveur’, Fanny introduced the public to unusual dishes from France and Italy, popularising the pizza in England. She is also credited as the originator of the Prawn Cocktail. She and Johnny worked together on a touring cookery show, sponsored by the Gas Council, to show how gas could be used easily in the kitchen and, as their fame increased, Fanny’s shows transferred to television, where she enjoyed 20 years of success.In the course of her shows Fanny made frequent concessions to the economic realities of the era, suggesting cheaper alternatives which would be within reach of the housewife’s purse. The BBC published her recipes and suggestions for dinner-parties in a series of booklets, consolidating her reputation as the foremost celebrity chef of her day.Fanny adopted a combative persona, with dramatic make-up, waspish comments to Major Cradock and her assistants, and advised viewers, when showing them how to pierce a turkey with forks, to think of a neighbour they didn’t like. Her theatrical style was ripe for parodies, such as Betty Marsden's 'Fanny Haddock' radio-sketch in Beyond our Ken. It also led, at the height of her fame to a spectacular crash-and-burn on The Big Time, where Fanny disastrously brought her acid wit into play when dealing with housewife Gwen Troake.As a result of The Big Time Fanny alienated the public, lost her contract with the BBC and became fair game for a drubbing by the media, which revealed that she and Major Cradock were not married. A brutal and insufficiently researched entry in the Dictionary of National Biography suggested that she embellished her surname as Primrose-Pechey, when it derived from her paternal grandfather John Thomas Primrose Pechey. Subsequent celebrity chefs have brought a sophistication to British cooking which was not a part of Fanny’s repertoire, however they have acknowledged her pioneering work, when purple piped potato brought excitement to a Britain of liver and bacon suppers.

Source: dbpedia

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