I came to food writing by accident after years as a restaurant critic with the good fortune to meet Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson’s editor. She commissioned In Praise of the Potato which led to a column at The Telegraph and later my dream job writing a daily after work column for the Evening Standard. In between deadlines I wrote several single subject cook books including A Celebration of Soup and The Big Red Book of Tomatoes, helped Simon Hopkinson write Roast Chicken and Other Stories which led to writing The Prawn Cocktail Years. Since then I've written a dozen cook books and now write a similar after work column - Dinner Tonight - for The Times. My selection of cook books is very personal; I devoured Claudia Roden’s Middle Eastern cook book and virtually wore out Poor Cook, a lovely introduction to proper cooking. Simon Hopkinson bought me The Four Seasons Cookery Book at Hay when we were writing Roast Chicken while staying at the Walnut Tree. I cooked Cuisine Minceur from cover to cover in the last weeks of my first pregnancy and treasure my copy of the River Café blue biked over by Rose (inscribed in silver ink), a dear friend from our Time Out days (she was kids editor!). I have thousands of cookbooks.