Obituary: Chef and food writer Clarissa Dixon Wright dies

  • Monday 17 March 2014

Clarissa Dixon Wright, a former food columnist for Decanter and one half of popular television chef duo Two Fat Ladies, has died aged 66.

Clarissa Dixon Wright

Image credit: Alamy

Dixon Wright
(pictured) passed away at the weekend at Edinburgh's Royal Infirmiary, her agents said. The news prompted Twitter tributes from the many fans of Dixon Wright's cooking, writing and her often unapologetically frank style.

She was best known to the public for her television appearances as one of The Two Fat Ladies in the 1990s. Her on-screen colleague, Jennifer Paterson, died in 1999 aged 71.

Dixon Wright was born in 1947 as the youngest of four children to a wealthy family in north London.

Having gone against the wishes of her abusive father to train as a lawyer - with financial help from friends - Dixon Wright passed her Bar exams at 21 to become the UK's youngest female barrister.

However, her path to the top in law was curtailed by her subsequent lack of enthusiasm for practising law, and her eventual disbarment, which came at a point in her life when alcoholism had taken a firm hold of her senses.

She talked openly about those years, as well as her relationship with her father, in her autobiography, named Spilling the Beans. At one point, she claimed to have been drinking a third or half a bottle of vodka every morning, and in April 1987 sought help at a recovery centre in Kent.

As her law career faded, her interest in food grew. After taking over the food at St James's Club in London, she later began working at Books for Cooks in Notting Hill.

In the 1990s, she began writing a monthly 'Leftovers' food column for Decanter, covering a range of subjects from British cheese to dates to the lineage of a lobster.

'I once flew six live lobsters home from Boston on dry ice and they survived far better than some British ones taken by car from Marylebone High Street to Chiswick four days later,' she wrote in the May 1995 issue.

'Clary sage should be on the Class B drugs list, as it can be used as an hallucinogenic,' she wrote in August issue of that year in an article on the history of sage.

Following her death, Dixon Wright's agents, Heather Holden-Brown and Elly James, said, 'Loved dearly by her friends and many fans all over the world, Clarissa was utterly non-PC and fought for what she believed in, always, with no thought to her own personal cost.'

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