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Pamela Clark

Pamela Clark

Pamela Clark (born 1944)[1] is an Australian chef, cookbook author and food presenter, and has been associated with The Australian Women's Weekly for 50 years.

Pamela Clark
Born1944 (age 7778)

Early life

Clark spent her preschool years living on Aneityum, Vanuatu, due to her father's work there.[2][3] In 1948, the family left Aneityum and returned to Australia, and from 1949, she attended Meriden School in Strathfield, Sydney. Her favourite school subject was Home Science with teacher Miss Scott, who was a former cookery demonstrator at the Australian Gas Light Company (AGL).[4] At age of 11, Clark decided that she, too, wanted to work in the food industry. At 15, she completed a cake-decorating course at a local technical college.[5][6] She left school aged 17 in the early 1960s, and followed in Miss Scott's footsteps by working as a cooking demonstrator for four months[7] at AGL,[8] and then worked at the St George County Council for seven years. From her work through the Council at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, she met staff from the Australian Women's Weekly (AWW) Test Kitchen (then known as the Leila Howard Test Kitchen). She then applied for a role at the Test Kitchen with food editor Ellen Sinclair.[9]


In September 1969,[10] she began as the Chief Home Economist in the Leila Howard Test Kitchen (Australian Women's Weekly (AWW) Test Kitchen). She helped produce nine cookbooks over four years, and organised the magazine's food testing and photography. She worked on the original Australian Women's Weekly Cookbook published in 1970,[11] one of her contributions was having prepared the Savoury lamb casserole featured on the front of the book jacket.[11][12]

Clark moved to Tasmania in 1973 and worked as a food presenter on television and radio,[13] as well as teaching Adult Education food classes, and running a hotel restaurant in Hobart.

External video
2018 interview with Pamela Clark[14]
Pamela Clark demonstrates how to make "The train cake"[15]

She returned as the Weekly's Chief Home Economist in 1978, and facilitated The Golden Cooking Library, Cookery Cards, AWW Home Library Cookbooks and the magazine's recipes. She was the catalyst of The Children's Birthday Cake Book, having spoken about animal cakes after making a dinosaur cake for a young neighbour.[16] In a later cake title, Clark said that this book was the favourite part of her job: "I love baking, and I'm just crazy about every aspect of creating children's cakes..."[17] Clark became the Food Editor in 1984.[18] One of the changes she introduced was a greater emphasis on photographing the recipes.[7] Her role as Food Editor included tasting and approving 2000 recipes in a year, which would then be included across 12 months' of the magazine, the Weekly's Menu Planner series, and the six cookbooks published annually.[19]

In his role as Clark's boss, media owner Kerry Packer would often request pink-iced finger buns[20] and three-minute eggs to be delivered in short time frames.[21] Clark also ran his dining room in the same building as the Test Kitchen.[7] In a satirical article from 1991, Packer was alleged to have concocted wholemeal lamingtons using Vogel's branded bread in the Test Kitchen, "...before food editor Pamela Clark had had a chance to intervene...". The humorous take concluded that the Fairfax Committee delighted in the lamingtons, with the recipe destined for an issue of the Weekly, but this enjoyment did not extend to Packer's media ownership.[22]

In the 1990s, Clark made bi-monthly television presentations and appearances on Channel Nine's 'What's Cooking',[18][23] and in 2003, the channel's 'Fresh Cooking with the AWW'.[13] From 2006 to 2011, Clark contributed recipes to the ABC Radio website.[24]

In 2016, Clark described her cooking philosophy as: "Cooking for me is all about simplicity - letting the beautiful fresh produce and flavours shine."[25]

Clark was credited as Food Editor since her 1984 appointment, through to the 1990s,[26][27] and then variously as Food Director (2002[28] - 2012[29]), later as Editorial and Food Director from 2012 to approximately 2015.[30][31] A contributing factor for her role title changes was the sale of Australian Consolidated Press to Bauer Media Group in 2012.[32] She became the Editorial Director of Bauer Books after the incumbent retired.[4] She has also been considered to be the AWW Test Kitchen Director.[33] From 2018, her role is as the Editorial Director at Large of Bauer Books.[34]

She has been credited as one of Australia's most renowned cooks.[18]

Charity work

Clark was featured in the Celebrity Cooks Collection, a cookbook released by the National Heart Foundation in 1995, featuring 18 well-known Australian food writers. Contributors were asked for recipes of their favourite international cuisine, within the dietary guidelines of the Heart Foundation.[35] She contributed a chapter on cuisine from Vietnam.[36]

Clark was an Ambassador for the Australian Red Cross[37] for their Red Cross Big Cake Bake fundraising event, circa 2014 - 2017.[38][39]

In 2016, she judged a charity bake-off featuring all the cakes from The Children's Birthday Cake Book. The cake challenge benefited the Canberra-based then-named PANDSI (Post and Ante Natal Depression Support and Information Inc.), renamed to Perinatal Wellbeing Centre in 2019/2020. Clark planned to be a future patron of the charity.[40]



Clark was interviewed on Radio National in July 2016 about "cake pushers" in the workplace.[41] In November 2018, she was featured on ABC Radio's Life Matters[34] and Nightlife with Melanie Tait.[7] In 2018, she was featured on the ABC's Throwback series, with the interview focused on The Children's Birthday Cake Book.[42]


Clark has contributed to around 400[43] to 500 of "the Weekly" recipe books including the popular Home Library series.[44] Many of the AWW books do not include an author, but are informally attributed to Clark, due to her role as the Test Kitchen Director or Editor.[45] She commented on the history of the AWW publications, noting the 40 year gap between the publication of the initial Best ever recipes (circa 1976) and 2016's Best ever recipes (ISBN 9781742457185), the latter for which she was Editorial and Food Director. She considered the first 'Best Ever' book as having "...led the field in showcasing The Australian Women's Weekly's triple-tested recipes in a cookbook."[46] The 'Best Ever' title sold two million copies and became an Australian household staple.[47]

In 2004, Clark wrote The magazine editors' diet: a revolutionary low-carb, low-fat diet with Catherine Saxelby.

In 2009, the Weekly highlighted Clark's then-30 years[48] of expertise, publishing the celebratory book, Ask Pamela Q&A: Pamela Clark answers all your cooking questions (ACP Books, Sydney, 2009, ISBN 9781863968713). It was published to feature the most common questions posed to Clark in her roles in the Test Kitchen.[49] It was reviewed by Annelise Balsamo as perhaps being more suited to cooks who do not use the internet for troubleshooting questions. She noted that the information was accessible and useful, including having the authority of Clark as the Women's Weekly food director and the Weekly's gravitas.[50] Clark's answers have also been reviewed as easily understandable, unfailingly practical and down to earth.[51][52] That same year, a separate title was published in the same ilk but with a focus on baking, Q & A bake: Pamela Clark answers all your baking questions (ACP Books, Sydney, 2009, ISBN 9781863969772). It was reviewed by Christine Antoniou as a quick reference book with handy tips.[53]

In October 2018, Bauer Media Group published the title Pamela Clark: memories & recipes from the test kitchen (alternative title, Pamela Clark: recipes & stories from the test kitchen) (Bauer Media Group, Sydney, ISBN 9781742458649).

Personal life

Clark has two sisters, one was a nurse the other a high school teacher.[54] Clark lived with her son, Robby, in Newtown, Sydney during the 1990s.[55] Clark has two grandchildren, Elspeth Watson Clark and Isobel Watson Clark, who also partake in the tradition of choosing birthday cakes from The Children's Birthday Cake Book.[56]

She met her partner Paul in 2014, they now live together at Taveuni, Fiji and Pittwater.[1]


  1. Clark, Pamela (2018). "2010s: After 56 years in the world of food, time for a new life". Memories & recipes from the test kitchen. Sydney, N.S.W.: Bauer Media Group. p. 228. ISBN 9781742458649.
  2. Clark, Pamela; Saxelby, Catherine (2004). The magazine editors' diet: a revolutionary low-carb, low-fat diet. Sydney: ACP Books. p. 15. ISBN 978-1863964289.
  3. Clark, Pamela (2018). "Food from the start". Memories & recipes from the test kitchen. Sydney, N.S.W.: Bauer Media Group. p. 7. ISBN 9781742458649.
  4. Clark, Pamela (2018). "Food from the start". Memories & recipes from the test kitchen. Sydney, N.S.W.: Bauer Media Group. p. 8. ISBN 9781742458649.
  5. Clark, Pamela; Saxelby, Catherine (2004). The magazine editors' diet: a revolutionary low-carb, low-fat diet. Sydney: ACP Books. p. 19. ISBN 978-1863964289.
  6. "Australian Women's Weekly Birthday Cake Cookbook: The cake that no parent should attempt". The Daily Telegraph. 10 September 2018. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  7. Tait, Melanie (3 November 2018). "A visit to the Australian Women's Weekly Test Kitchen". ABC. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  8. Metcalf, Fran (7 November 2006). "Eat your heart out". The Courier-Mail.
  9. Clark, Pamela; Saxelby, Catherine (2004). The magazine editors' diet: a revolutionary low-carb, low-fat diet. Sydney: ACP Books. pp. 20–21. ISBN 978-1863964289.
  10. Hall, Necia (1 June 1999). "Testing... Testing". The Age. p. 1.
  11. Pakula, Karen (21 August 2007). "Queens of the kitchen". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  12. Australian women's weekly cookbook. Potts Point, Sydney, Australia: Golden Press Pty Ltd. 1970. pp. [6]. ISBN 0855582006.
  13. Food we love: favourite recipes from our test kitchen. Sydney: ACP Publishing. 2006. p. 238. ISBN 1863964770.
  14. "How the Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book changed the shape of Australian birthdays". ABC. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  15. "The Australian Women's Weekly Train Cake". YouTube. The Australian Women's Weekly Cookbooks. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  16. Gorman, Ginger (9 May 2016). "How 'the greatest book ever written in this country' came about". Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  17. Clark, Pamela (2002). Kids' birthday cakes. Sydney: ACP Publishing. pp. [2]. ISBN 978-1863962810.
  18. Bates, Stephanie (15 June 2010). "Back to school for basic skills". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 18.
  19. "Testing times in the kitchen". Sydney Morning Herald. 2 May 1989. p. 6.
  20. Clark, Pamela (2018). "2000s: New century, millennium, job and Test Kitchen". Memories & recipes from the test kitchen. Sydney, N.S.W.: Bauer Media Group. p. 177. ISBN 9781742458649.
  21. "Queen of tarts who has won many hearts (Stay in touch with...)". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 March 2013. p. 22.
  22. "Trying Kerry's takeover recipe". The Canberra Times. 3 August 1991. p. 4.
  23. "Food chain". Sun Herald. 26 March 1995.
  24. "Pamela Clark (Australian Womens Weekly)". Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  25. Clark, Pamela (2016). Best ever recipes. Sydney, NSW: Bauer Media Books. pp. [71]. ISBN 9781742457185.
  26. The Australian Women's Weekly home library all time favourites from the Australian Women's Weekly. Australian women's weekly home library. Sydney, N.S.W.: ACP Publishing. 1997. ISBN 1863960589.
  27. Best recipes from the Weekly. Australian women's weekly home library. Sydney: Australian Consolidated Press. 1990. ISBN 0731699807.
  28. Best food: a collection of our most delicious recipes. Sydney: ACP Publishing. 2002. ISBN 1863962611.
  29. Clark, Pamela (2012). The Australian women's weekly : how to cook : step-by-step. Sydney, N.S.W.: ACP Books. ISBN 9781742453064.
  30. Sugar free. Sydney, N.S.W.: Bauer Media Books. 2015. ISBN 9781742456232.
  31. "Pamela Clark". Food to Love. 6 March 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  32. Hall, Necia (1 June 1999). "Testing... Testing...". The Age. p. 1.
  33. "Testing, Testing… 5 Minutes with Pamela Clark". Australian House & Garden. 3: 160. March 2007.
  34. "How many of Pamela Clark's 'Women's Weekly' birthday cakes have you made?". ABC. 1 November 2018. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  35. Parsons, Susan (10 May 1995). "What the great chefs are cooking". The Canberra Times. p. 17.
  36. James, Sally, ed. (1995). Celebrity cooks collection. Rushcutter's Bay, N.S.W.: Gore & Osment. pp. 12–15. ISBN 187553184X.
  37. "Pamela Clark". Australian Red Cross. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  38. March, Kirstyn; Brewin, Rebecca (17 July 2014). "Faster and less fatty: how food has evolved according to Australia's queen of cakes". ABC Goldfields WA. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  39. "Wicked treats for a great cause". Murray Valley Standard. 3 October 2017.
  40. Giddings, Veronica (24 March 2016). "PANDSI's 107 birthday cakes". HerCanberra. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  41. "Cake pushers: a recipe for disaster". ABC Radio National. 8 July 2016. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  42. "Throwback: Our Childhoods Revisited". ABC iview. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  43. May, Dave; Mockler, Richard; Tonkin, Leigh (9 September 2018). "The 'daggy' book that helped shape Australian kids' birthdays". ABC News. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  44. Clark, Pamela (1989). The Best of the Australian Women's Weekly Cookery. Sydney, NSW Australia: Greenhouse Publications Pty Ltd. pp. v. ISBN 978-0864363046.
  45. Agnew, Margaret (7 August 2003). "No worries". The Press. p. C2.
  46. Best ever recipes. Sydney: Bauer Media Books. 2016. p. 6. ISBN 9781742457185.
  47. Clark, Lucy (8 March 2003). "Kitchen colossus". The Courier Mail (Brisbane). p. L13.
  48. Phillips, Graeme (21 June 2009). "A treasure trove of tasty treats". Sunday Tasmanian. p. 24.
  49. "By the book". Illawarra Mercury. 4 March 2009. p. 26. ISSN 1443-900X.
  50. Balsamo, Annelise (Summer 2008–2009). "Ask Pamela Q&A: Pamela Clark answers all your cooking questions [book review]". Bookseller + Publisher Magazine. 88 (5): 49.
  51. Donnelly, Fiona (24 February 2009). "The Australian Women's Weekly Ask Pamela Q&A". The Courier-Mail. p. 26.
  52. Thompson, Sue (25 March 2009). "Book review: All the answers". Preston Leader. p. 18.
  53. Antoniou, Christine (9 November 2009). "On the shelf". Caulfield Glen Eira-Port Phillip Leader.
  54. Reeves, Elaine (7 February 2017). "Driven to high quality". Hobart Mercury. p. 30.
  55. Clark, Pamela (2018). "1990s: More recipes, more work, more cookbooks, more fun". Memories & recipes from the test kitchen. Sydney, N.S.W.: Bauer Media Group. p. 126. ISBN 9781742458649.
  56. Bennett, Sue (30 June 2005). "Success is a piece of cake". Daily Telegraph. p. 20.
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