-The Cooking Colonel of Madras by David Smith
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my new book - out late-September

Agnes Marshall: From Scullery Maid to Victorian Celebrity Cook

Agnes Marshall: From Scullery Maid to Victorian Celebrity Cook

Trailblazer, innovator, entrepreneur. Agnes Marshall was as famous in her day as Mrs Beeton, but she has largely been forgotten, aside from a few passing references to her role in improving ice cream-making. But Agnes's story and her significant achievements in the world of cookery deserve far greater recognition. Now David Smith has re-examined her contribution to food history, busting some myths about her origins along the way.

Starting out as a lowly scullery maid, Agnes worked her way up to be a cook in gentlemen's service. Then, with true entrepreneurial spirit, she and her husband, Alfred, opened a cookery school that became renowned across Britain and beyond. Spotting further business opportunities, Agnes was endorsed by royalty; became the author of four best-selling cookery books; invented numerous improvements to ice cream-making machinery; established and contributed to a weekly newspaper, The Table; and undertook lecture tours in the UK and overseas. According to Oscar Wilde, "Mrs. Marshall's brilliant lectures are, of course, well known."

All this Agnes did with grit, determination and extraordinary stamina, while also fulfilling her traditional role as a wife and mother. She is a fascinating example of Victorian social mobility: how hard work, business acumen and a bit of good luck could lead to a successful career and helped her and Alfred to climb the social ladder.

find out more about the book >>

summer food

My kitchen garden is beginning to come into its own: coriander (cilantro), salad leaves and fenugreek leaves looking tasty and green.


The Curry House Cookery Book