All for the love of cheese on toast

Metters 'Early Kooka' stove

Metters 'Early Kooka'. Photo Jacqui Newling © Sydney Living Museums

The Cook’s Kooka

‘The Cook’, gastronomer Jacqui Newling, is very excited to have acquired a blue Early Kooka – all because of one man’s love of cheese on toast. A local Sydney resident named Eve had cooked on her Kooka for over thirty years, but the grill burners had given out, meaning it could no longer produce her husband’s favourite snack, grilled cheese toast. Eve finally conceded that it had had its day in their household, and installed a new, 21st century stove.

Jacqui heard that the Kooka was looking for a new home, and fortunately has a practical husband who could dismantle and reassemble the fittings, and better still, drives a ute. Even stripped of its removable fittings, the enameled iron Kooka is a weight-lifter’s challenge. But with the help of a couple of young recruits, it was carried up Eve’s back stairs and secured onto the ute under Eve’s watchful eye. It now has pride of place in Jacqui’s kitchen, awaiting hook-up to the gas pipe: expect to see it featured in this blog from time to time.

Metters 'Early Kooka' stove

Metters ‘Early Kooka’. Photo Jacqui Newling © Sydney Living Museums

An Aussie icon

A modernised version of the iron cooking ranges that emerged in the nineteenth-century, gas ranges, or ‘cookers’ as they came to be known, relieved the workload and discomfort required in using a wood- or coal-burning fuel stove. The Early Kooka gas stove was first manufactured by Metters in 1937 and has become an icon of the Australian kitchen, remaining in production until the late 1940s – I haven’t been able to date this one exactly. Most models were green and cream, however some blue and white models were produced. Metters playfully took advantage of Australians’ not taking things in life so seriously, and our penchant for abbreviating words and creating nicknames. The ‘kitchen range’ relaxed into being termed the ‘kitchen cooker’ from which Metters ‘Kooka’ was a pun. Further echoing its brand name, some Early Kooka models are branded with a kookaburra with a worm in its beak, emblazoned on its oven door – a pictorial pun referencing ‘the early bird catches the worm’.

Securing the Kooka.

Securing the Kooka. Photo Jacqui Newling © Sydney Living Museums

Kooka ready for the road.

Kooka ready for the road. Photo Jacqui Newling © Sydney Living Museums