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 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 books to my name (and many more I’ve edited and ghost written). I am often employed as a consultant on books that need licking into shape and I also do Americanising for several publishers. I have also been a restaurant critic 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 stage one 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.