First and foremost, I love to eat. As soon as I realised that learning to cook properly meant I could eat well whenever I wanted, I knew it was my calling. I’m not a chef. Reproducing the same food consistently over and over isn’t my thing. I love the creativity of developing a recipe, the challenge of recording it through words and images, and the buzz of passing it on.
Recipe writing and food styling has been my full-time day job since 2012, though it was my tasty bit on the side for six years before that. If you’re looking for a food stylist or home economist in Hampshire or the South East, please visit my food styling page for more information.
A taste of Hampshire
I live in Winchester, in the heart of Hampshire, in the south of England, which is a fabulous place to be a locavore. I wrote the recipe column for Hampshire Life magazine for nearly 15 years. I used it as a showcase for my favourite local ingredients and over the years it helped me to uncover some real gems.
From 2006 – 2012 I worked for county food group Hampshire Fare where my respect for local food producers and their fabulous creations truly grew. My proudest achievement during that time was setting up ‘Preserving the Hampshire Hog’. The project provided Hampshire pig farmers with the skills they needed to turn their world-class pork into lucrative charcuterie at a time when farms were losing money on every carcass they sold. Nearly a decade on, I still get a kick every time I pass a market stall selling Hampshire cured ham or salami.
TV and competitions
Before turning food into my profession, I dabbled with cookery competitions. Some of them obscure but fun (I’m looking at you Chicory Challenge!), others better known like BBC’s Masterchef and Step up to the Plate. My final and most successful attempt was ITV’s Britain’s Best Dish, which I won in 2008 with my recipe for smoked trout and watercress tart, made entirely from Hampshire-grown ingredients.
You may notice a suspicious break in blog posts between 2014 and 2020. Yep, two children happened! And although I cooked for my growing family every day, and even carried on freelancing after allowing myself a modest amount of maternity leave (thanks boss!), my addiction to getting a few hours’ sleep each night meant that something had to give. I was still doing the same things as before; I just didn’t have enough time to tell anyone about it.
As my reputation as a professional food stylist grew, the thought of uploading a few imperfect snaps onto my blog definitely held me back from getting it going again. Weirdly, it was the covid-19 lockdown period that gave me the motivation I needed to revamp the website and resurrect the blog. I started doing loads more cooking with my kids, and I figured that there were lots of other parents out there who were home-schooling for the first time and who were desperate for some new ideas to fill up the day. I also figured that they weren’t going to mind too much if the photographs weren’t of the highest quality, if my kids were looking a bit dishevelled or the kitchen in the background was a chaotic mess. So, welcome to my real life kitchen, with my real life kids and all that real life mess! *
* Prospective food styling clients please note: afore mentioned kids and mess never accompany me to the studio 🙂