I have been a food writer and editor for many years and have written over 60 books. I believe food should be easy to make, look good, taste good and do you good. I am passionate about creating delicious dishes that anyone can cook. I care about where our food comes from too: buying locally grown produce where possible and supporting ethical trading by purchasing Fairtrade imports when home-grown aren’t available.
Eat seasonal food to enjoy food at its very best. Not only will it taste better but you will be saving the planet too by reducing air miles and, therefore, our carbon footprint. If you want to buy foods that come from elsewhere, go for those with a longer shelf life – like pineapples or bananas – which can be shipped here, impacting far less on the environment than the delicate perishables, like strawberries, that have to be flown here. And, let’s face it, eating a sweet, juicy, fragrant strawberry, ripened on the plant picked and eaten within a day or two during our British summer is a joy. A half-ripe, semi-hard one with hardly any aroma, chilled to within an inch of its life from half way round the world, is not a treat at all!
Apart from writing and editing, I am also a qualified audio describer, further education teacher, a restaurant critic and a Great Taste Awards coordinator and judge, courtesy of The Guild of Fine Food. I have also trained as a Level 1 cheese taster and am now an Associate of the Academy of Cheese.
I hope you will get inspiration from my books and that they will encourage you to be more creative with food and to enjoy cooking for yourselves at home. It is so pleasurable to dish up something you have made yourself (and often a lot cheaper and healthier than ready meals or takeaways too). Use my recipes to give you ideas of your own to become more creative. Just have fun and enjoy the feast!
An early learner
I have loved cooking since I was a tiny tot. I used to stand on a chair in the kitchen beside my grandmother (a professional cook) and she taught me all the basic skills. I cooked my first Sunday lunch when I was eight or nine years old! Gran had such flair and natural talent. I like to think some of it rubbed off on me…
Training for my career
I always wanted to be a food writer/cookery editor (I even did work experience with Fanny Craddock!) but, as I was only 16 when I got my A levels, I was too young for the HND Home Economics course I applied for, so I did a Diploma in Journalism to fill the gap. I loved it. I went on to do the HND afterwards but was bored. The basic cookery level was way below what I had already achieved (I was already doing party catering in my spare time and Cordon Bleu-standard cooking). I had already done more journalism than would be covered in the course, too. The Principal agreed it would be better for me to go out into the world and gain experience, rather than waste three years at college.
The stepping stones
The day I left the course I went for an interview to become the head cook in a hotel in Berkshire – mad but true! I got it there and then, accommodation and all! I thought I had arrived. I got rave reviews from regular customers but was far too young for the pressures of the role. I hated working the long hours and found some of the older staff – well one in particular – very difficult (no, impossible) to handle. I was very unhappy and left. I did a short spell in restaurant management but soon realised that I loved writing more than catering so went back to journalism. Having worked at a Fleet Street news agency and then at Yachting World, I finally combined the two skills on Woman as a cookery writer and then Deputy Cookery Editor in the mid 1970s. I stayed until my daughter was about to be born and then have freelanced ever since.
From then until now
I have written for many magazines and PR companies, taught journalism and cookery, and have over 60 cookery books to my name (and many more I’ve edited and ghost written). I’ve also written numerous other non-fiction books. I am often employed as a consultant on recipe books that need licking into shape and I have done Americanising for several publishers. I have spent many pleasurable years as a restaurant critic, including for The Good Food Guide and am lucky enough to be a coordinator and judge for The Great Taste Awards, run by The Guild of Fine Foods. I have also just completed Level 1 training in cheese tasting and become an Associate of the Academy of Cheese. I am also a member of The Guild of Food Writers and of The Institute of Health Promotion and Education.
Member of The Guild of Food Writers
Member of The Institute of Health Promotion and Education