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This article was written on 05 Jan 2015, and is filled under AGA History, Rayburn History.

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The AGA Cookery Tradition

Things have changed since the 1930s when the AGA cooker was first introduced but one thing remains constant – the warm welcome home and the advantages of cooking with radiant heat. In those years people of Britain relied on cookbooks and gastronomical advisers, nowadays we still do but things are much easier by the YouTube videos – you can have a cooking demonstration at your home.

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The father of modern food writing

Ambrose Heath(1891-1969)  was a renowned food writer trusted by millions of British cooks. He wrote more than 100 cookery books among which the famous ‘Good Food on the AGA’. After this publication, Heath’s association with the AGA cooker continued to grow and in 1935 he was appointed AGA Gastronomical Advisor. Part of his mission was giving advice to owners on their cookery challenges. In a 1939 brochure he shares: ‘I can say without exaggeration that we have had much better food since the AGA was installed than ever before, the reason being, that it is much easier to cook on. The AGA seems to make one want to cook…

Ambrose Heath’s ‘Good Food on the AGA’ featured illustrations by Edward Bawden, well-known for his work for Twinings, Shell-Mex and Fortnum & Mason, as well as renowned London transport creatives, which included posters during the 1930s and tile motifs for London Underground.

Throughout the war years, Heath was one of the main voices of the BBC’s ‘The Kitchen Front’. A series of talks organised by the Ministry of food which were meant to encourage frugality and ease hardship of rationing with recipes, household hints, exhortations from government officials and comedy. He worked with Dr John Raeburn, who organised the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign and after whom the Rayburn is believed to have been named. Certainly the themes re-appear in an early Rayburn brochure after its launch as a sister brand to the AGA cooker in 1946.

Ambrose has established an AGA cookery tradition and had set the mould for the modern chef who is always ready to respond to queries and to convey enthusiasm. It is a tradition which Marry Berry, whose AGA Cookbook is in its 18th edition, is the leading light. Other current cooking writers include Lucy Young, Amy Willcock, Louise Walker, Dawn Roads and Richard Maggs.

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