Downton Abbey’s Mrs. Patmore: On Food, Cooking, and Pretending to Cook

updated May 30, 2019
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Downton Abbey fans need no introduction to Mrs. Patmore, the puffing, no-nonsense cook with a heart of gold. LA Weekly recently sat down with Lesley Nicol, the British actress who plays Mrs. Patmore, to get a little behind-the-scenes look at her cooking life, in real life and on the show:

Many of the scenes with Mrs. Patmore take place in the kitchen, unsurprisingly, as she and her team of kitchenmaids cook, fume, and fret their way through elaborate courses for Lord Grantham and his family. So it’s funny to learn that Ms. Nicol is reportedly a terrible cook in real life. “I can do basics but I’m not a proper cook. I can do a roast. I can stick a chicken in the oven with vegetables.” (That doesn’t sound too terrible to us!)

She also shares that she relies on one of the prop guys, who’s also a chef, to put her straight if he finds her doing anything too out of the place in the kitchen. Her main job, she says, is to be the authority in the kitchen: “You won’t find me preparing vegetables unless there’s a real reason why… So really I’m garnishing, I’m smelling, I’m doing what proper cooks do. So you don’t actually see me doing much, but I always check it out first.”

(Image: Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for Masterpiece via The Daily Beast)

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