About the author
I have always enjoyed baking, having at first taught myself from books. When a student, I started baking to save money, by making local English specialities like Bakewell Tart, biscuits and cakes. Then when I had more opportunities to travel I became fascinated by foreign foods and entered a Merchant Gourmet contest with a Spanish dish for A Smoky Asturian Stew. I won it and the prize was a French cookery course in Provence. At Le'Baou D'Infer the chef was Alex Mackay, former director of the cookery school at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons. I particularly loved learning to make excellent French sweet pastry for a variety of delicious tarts.
In time I represented the UK at the Dessert Championships at Le Meurice in Paris, making a cassis, summer fruits and white chocolate cheesecake. As part of the prize the contestants ate at Cafe Procope, founded in 1686, a coffee house and literary haunt of Rousseau, Voltaire, and Benjamin Franklin. The chocolate dessert below was a particular inspiration.
My inspiration to write An Appetite for Violets began with a collection of historic recipes at Erddig Hall and reflecting on how the cook might have felt if she’d been sent to some far-flung foreign places. Thanks to TV food historian Ivan Day I’ve learned a great deal about historic cookery, using forgotten techniques and attempting the truly amazing sugarwork skills that confectioners developed in the 18th century. Of course I don’t make extraordinary food all that often, but I do love to bake and I’m a keen member of the http://clandestinecakeclub.co.uk/ which has groups all around the world.