Long before MasterChef, or the Domestic Goddess, there was Margaret Fulton, the queen of Australian home cooking.
A year before Americans put a man on the moon, Margaret Fulton, who died on Wednesday at 94, put things other than meat and three veg onto dinner tables across Australia, an equally revolutionary feat.
Her 1968 Margaret Fulton cookbook, banished the blandness out of Australian cooking, and introduced Australian palates to the exotic flavours of Italian, French, Greek, Spanish, and Chinese cuisines.
The book, published by Paul Hamlyn, sold 1.5 million copies and inspired generations to attempt culinary greatness, elevating home cooking to a fine art. Dog eared copies of the book, stained with cooking grease and their pages caked together at the favourite pages, grace kitchen counters across this country.
As cooking editor of both Women's Day and Women's Weekly, Fulton was a colourful Sydney identity, at home on the talk show circuit and an early 1960s TV cooking star.
She went on to write 20 cookbooks, earnt an Order of Australia in 1983, and became a National Trust Living Legend in 1995. Not only that, she was also the subject of musical Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert, first staged in 2012 in Melbourne, which made its way to Sydney last year to coincide with the 50th anniversary of her bestseller.
Although she was Scottish born, we always claimed her as our own, says Good Food contributor and food writer Jill Dupleix, who like many Australians stole her mother's linen-bound copy of the book when she first left home.
"It was from her I learnt to make an omelette, a French roast chicken, boeuf bourginon. It was a great leap forward because before her there was only the Commonsense Cookbook or the sober Presbyterians and we lived off British recipes. Margaret was a game changer because she spiced things up," says Dupleix.
"We can laugh now at her Chinese Australian dishes, and Indian recipes and pizza but until her this had not been done – she taught us how to cook to entertain at home.
"She taught me and so many of us that cooking was like playing the piano, and like the piano you have to get your fingers working she told me and when you do that there is no stopping what you can do in the kitchen."
Her friend and fellow cooking show host Lyndey Milan says Fulton's legacy is not just in her cooking books but the influence she had on Australian chefs such as Janni Kyritsis (whose partner learnt English thanks to her cookbook), Neil Perry, Kylie Kwong, Stephanie Alexander, and Maggie Beer.
"All chefs loved Margaret and learnt from her, she was never predictable - she opened the world of flavours to Australians," says Milan.
"She wasn't just a sweet old lady either – she always joked that cooking was just as fascinating as men."
Her strength was, her everywoman/man/chef appeal. In 2007, Fulton, beloved Balmain identity, was asked if she'd donate a book to the Birchgrove primary school fete. Instead she offered to launch a new book at the fete, judged the pikelet competition (with footballer Lote Tuqiri) and spent the day signing books, browsing the second hand book stall, and chatting to everybody.
Cooking great Beer told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age: "What a great innings of a wonderfully spunky lady who has had such an impact on Australian cuisine.
"What a mark Margaret made on the lives of so many Australians in those early days where food was a basic commodity.
"Through her books she gave the confidence to so many to see food as something to enjoy, share and be adventurous with. Margaret changed the Australian dinner party scene and so many readers have and will continue to create recipes from their favourite Margaret Fulton cookbook," says Beer.
Fulton's grand daughter Kate Gibbs, who with the rest of her family was with her when she died on Wednesday, and is also a cooking writer says everyone who met her was inspired by her because she was the first of her kind.
"She was diminutive of size, but so huge in so many people's memories.
"She taught me and my sisters, my mum and generations of Australian women to cook and to love cooking, whether it was roast beef, lamb chops or something exotic.
"She really was an icon, who taught me the conversation is as important as the food at the table. We will miss her most at our table," she says. As will most Australians.