Olivia has recently been awarded Debut Food Book of the Year in the Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards 2020. Her book A Half-Baked Idea: How grief, love and cake took me from the courtroom to Le Cordon Bleu fought off stiff competition from Be My Guest by Priya Basil and A Cheesemonger's History of the British Isles by Ned Palmer to take the top spot.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? "I'm Olivia Potts. I graduated from the Diplôme de Pâtisserie in 2017 and I'm a food writer and chef. Last year, my book Half Baked Idea: How grief, love and cake took me from the courtroom to Le Cordon Bleu was published by Fig Tree Penguin."
How has studying at Le Cordon Bleu helped you? "I think alongside the knowledge and skills that the course teaches you, what Le Cordon Bleu really gifted me was confidence. Confidence to go into a professional kitchen and feel like I could hold my own. Or confidence to write about food from a new point of view."
How did you find it living in London? "I've lived in London for over a decade now and I think it's an exciting and fast paced place to live. It's vibrant. It's got great cultural diversity and the food scene reflects all of that."
What has been your greatest culinary moment? "My greatest culinary moment? Well I still think fondly of my final pâtisserie exam at Le Cordon Bleu, that felt like a real triumph getting to that point. But I guess now... I cater weddings and every time we pull off a big celebratory wedding for 200 people and the whole room is happy with chatter and good food. That's pretty great."
What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow in your footsteps? "I moved careers to go to Le Cordon Bleu, I went from being a criminal barrister to a food writer and cook. And while I didn't take decision lightly, I think my main advice would be, go for it, do the thing, be brave, and you probably won't regret it."
What’s your go to quick meal? "A quick meal to rustle up? If I'm not getting takeaway pizza or just making toast, it's probably something involving eggs. Perfect, slightly jammy seven-minute eggs on smoked fish and some really nice rice or baked in spicy tomatoes like shakshuka. But, if it's been a long week and I want something quick... it's probably takeaway pizza."
What's your go to store cupboard essential? "My one essential store cupboard item. I don't know if I'm allowed butter because that's technically from the fridge. If butter doesn't count, probably anchovies or Marmite or something with a punchy flavour that's going to brighten up a really dull dish."
What's your go to herb or spice? "If I could only have one herb or spice? I'm quite into cardamom at the moment, but if you're really only going to let me have one forever it has to be vanilla."
What's your best-ever meal? "I think it's hard to beat a really well cooked steak with chips and a great Bearnaise sauce. The actual best meal I ever had was the tasting menu at The Sportsman in Seasalter in Kent, where we went for my 30th birthday."
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