Olivia Potts

Olivia Potts

Food writer

https://www.ahalfbakedidea.co.uk
Olivia is a food writer and cook. After her mother's death five years ago, she taught herself to cook and bake, before leaving her career as a criminal barrister to train in patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu. She writes the Spectator Life cookery column. She is the winner of the YBFs Fresh Voices in Food Writing 2017.

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Olivia's favorite cookbooks

Tender: Volume II: A cook's guide to the fruit garden

Tender: Volume II: A cook's guide to the fruit garden

Nigel Slater

Everything Nigel Slater writes is a joy to read but his writing on fruit is my absolute favourite. Every page is imbued with love and knowledge, and a real desire to pass both of those onto the reader – and provides ample fodder for my daydream (or London pipe dream) of owning a fruit-heavy tree-filled garden.

Nigella Bites

Nigella Bites

Nigella Lawson

This was the first cookbook I ever bought for myself. It's probably not the best of Nigella's cookbooks (that title has to go to How to Eat, with Feast a close second place), but it was a formative one for me. I'm not sure I've ever even cooked a dish from it, but I could tell you every single recipe in it, describe every photograph. Nigella, in a purple pashmina, standing over a barbecue wielding tongs, seemed to 12 year old me like the most glamorous thing. It was the book that taught me that a cookbook isn't just a tool, it can be a delight.

Nose to Tail Eating

Nose to Tail Eating

Fergus Henderson

If I could work in any restaurant, it would be St John. I love everything about it: its approach to cooking and meat, its pastry department, its ethos, its humour, its menu, and its eccles cake that I inevitably take with me at the end of the meal, to brighten the following day. Its cookbook represents all of this on the page perfectly, and I could cook from it every day without getting bored.

Short and Sweet

Short and Sweet

Dan Lepard

Whenever I think I've come up with an interesting or original flavour combination, I consult Short and Sweet, because inevitably, Dan Lepard has got there before me. This is so much more than a baking primer: it is thoughtful, smart, and delicious.

Jane Grigson's Fruit Book

Jane Grigson's Fruit Book

Jane Grigson

I defy anyone to read Grigson and not fall in love with food writing as a whole. I love the scope of food writing here: from the fairytale-like description of strawberries to the resentful, acerbic rhubarb chapter, every page is a masterclass in how to write about food well.

A Bird in the Hand

A Bird in the Hand

Diana Henry

I love all of Diana's cookbooks: the writing is simultaneously lyrical and grounded, her recipes manage to make the most complicated, unfamiliar recipes seem simple and achievable. If I could write like anyone, it would be Diana Henry. Bird in the Hand is my favourite: it has taught me how much can be done with a single ingredient, and is a love song to a staple of the dinner table.

Patisserie: Mastering the Fundamentals of French Pastry

Patisserie: Mastering the Fundamentals of French Pastry

I lusted after this fat, bright pink book all the way through culinary school. It tackles everything from creme patissiere through to tempered chocolate decorations, shortcrust pastry to blown sugar, with over 3000 photos.

Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course

Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course

Delia Smith

I didn't really read Delia's books until after I'd taught myself to cook, but the belated discovery, which came when my Dad brought my Mum's old cookery books down to London, was like a portal to my Mum's cooking and to my childhood.

The Food Lab

The Food Lab

J. Kenji López-Alt

Kenji Lopez Alt is just so bloody clever. His writing is funny and wise and pragmatic, but his recipes and research is superlative. I don't come from a science background, but I want to understand why things do and don't work in the kitchen. Lopez Alt takes me through all of this step by step, and has made my cooking a hundred times better for it.

Milk: Momofuku Milk Bar

Milk: Momofuku Milk Bar

Christina Tosi

Unashamedly trashy flavours combined with precise, exquisite pastry work: Milk Bar recipes feel like a breath of fresh air, and rewrote the dos and don'ts of classical patisserie. Lots of cookbooks teach you how to make beautiful tarts; Christina Tosi shows you how to have fun while you're at it.