Editor and writer
Some are born cooks; some achieve good cooking; and some have cooking thrust upon them.' Katharine Whitehorn wrote this book for the latter category and, although it was published in 1979 and is inevitably a little dated in places, it's still an invaluable guide for beginners. What's more, it will have you laughing out loud as you cook. Her advice on everything from bains marie ('relax - you do not have to bath the au pair') to washing up ('more to do with the national masochism than actually getting anything clean') is well seasoned with wit.