The former restaurateur and cookery school founder has written 12 cookbooks and seven novels from her home in Oxfordshire. She tells Rachel Hosie about her life in books.Growing up in Cape Town, I didn’t read much. When I was filling in my university application form, I got to the ‘hobbies’ section and my father said, ‘I wish we could write “books” here but I think “boys” is more accurate.’ I was insulted – but he was right.
I went to the Sorbonne in Paris for two years and read all the classics by authors like Victor Hugo and Guy de Maupassant. I was supposed to read them in French but I cheated and used the English versions instead.
It was in Paris that I realised I wanted to cook. Before that, I’d tried out drama and art school – but only because I hadn’t know what I wanted to do. I began writing a food column in the Daily Mail, but if I’m honest I was more interested in being a restaurateur than a writer back then.