When you delve back in time you will find there are a few important cookery writers who have shaped the culinary tastes of today and Margaret Costa is one of them.
Born in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) she read French at Oxford before going on to work at the Ministry of Fuel and Power during the war. She started her career in journalism by contributing articles to the Sunday Pictorial, Farmer and Stockbreeder and a number of women’s magazine.
By the 1950s she was already an accomplished cook, often catering for private dinner parties and had become a good friend of Raymond Postgate who she assisted in compiling the early editions of The Good Food Guide.
She was at the height of her career in the late Sixties and early Seventies as cookery writer for The Sunday Times colour magazine and as a food and travel writer for the highly successful American magazine, Gourmet, as well as acting as food consultant to Marks & Spencer. It was while she was writing her inspired weekly articles for The Sunday Times, that she met the highly talented chef Bill Lacy who was later to become her husband. They were soon the toast of the London food scene running Lacy’s, their highly acclaimed, but controversial restaurant off Charing Cross Road.
Having previously written for Farmer's Home magazine, a collection of her recipes was published as A Country Cook in 1960. And then in 1970 her book, The Four Seasons Cookery Book was published by Thomas Nelson and Sons. The book was unique in its approach – rather than being divided into the standard sections of starters, main courses and puddings – it was divided into the four seasons and then sub-divided by mini essays on specific ingredients or methods such as lamb, sorrel, comforting casseroles and proper puddings.
Margaret Costa died in 1999 aged 82. In her obituary Brenda Houghton, her former editor on The Sunday Times, wrote ‘…crucially, she wrote in a friendly, enthusiastic style that encouraged people to get up out of the chair and cook …it was her ability to convey her enthusiasm, to galvanise readers, to welcome everyone into her world, that has kept her memory alive.’