James HarperRecipeComment

Mary Berry's watercress soup

James HarperRecipeComment
Mary Berry's watercress soup

10 facts about Mary Berry

  1. Mary Berry was born in 1935 in Bath in Somerset to Margaret and Alleyne and was second of three children

  2. At the age of 13, Mary Berry contracted polio and had to spend three months in hospital. This resulted in her having a twisted spine, a weaker left hand and thinner left arm. She has said that the period of forced separation from her family while in hospital "toughened [her] up" and taught her to make the most of every opportunity she would have

  3. Mary attended Bath High School, where she described her academic abilities as "hopeless" until she attended domestic science classes with a teacher called Miss Date, who was particularly encouraging of her cooking abilities. She then studied catering and institutional management at Bath College of Domestic Science

  4. Mary’s first job was at the Bath electricity board showroom and then conducting home visits to show new customers how to use their electric ovens. She would typically demonstrate the ovens by making a Victoria sponge, a technique she would later repeat when in television studios to test out an oven she had not used before

  5. Her ambition was to move out of the family home to London, something which her parents would not allow until she was 21. At the age of 22, she applied to work at the Dutch Dairy Bureau, while taking City & Guilds courses in the evenings. She then persuaded her manager to pay for her to undertake the professional qualification from the French Le Cordon Bleu school and moved to Paris for a short period

  6. She left the Dutch Dairy Bureau to become a recipe tester for PR firm Benson's, where she began to write her first book.

  7. In 1966 she married Paul Hunnings and became Mary Hunnings going onto the have three children with him. Professionally she remained Mary Berry, however, and around the same time she became Food Editor for Housewife magazine before taking up the role at Ideal Home

  8. Her first television series Afternoon Plus with Judith Chalmers came out in the early '70s and was a big hit with a lot of British mothers. She continued through the '80s writing books and filming television series for BBC from her home in Buckinghamshire

  9. Mary started the '90s by launching her Aga Workshops, a cookery school at home, with over twelve thousand visitors over sixteen years

  10. Since the millennium Mary has continued to do demonstrations, has written over 70 books and does masses of media work. Most notably she has been a judge on The Great British Bake Off, The Junior Bake Off, Comic Relief Bake off and Sports Relief Bake Off  from 2009 to 2016. She has also made numerous guest appearances on shows such as Graham Norton and Loose Women, and has gone on to have her own TV series including Mary Berry Cooks

  11. In 2012 Mary was awarded a CBE for services to the culinary arts

  12. Clearly a love of cooking and baking especially, runs in the family as when Mary appeared on the BBC’s ‘Who do you think you are?’ she discovered that her great-great-grandfather, Robert Houghton, was a master baker in the 1860s who provided bread for a local workhouse in Norwich


In the Mid- 90s Mary and her daughter Annabel launched a range of salad dressings, chutneys, sauces and condiments: Mary Berry’s Foods. For the mother and daughter team it was about delivering top quality dressings and sauces, using the very best ingredients. Why not try some with this healthy Foolproof Green Salad recipe by Mary if you’re in a rush and don’t have time to make the suggested dill dressing to go with it.


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