Olia Hercules was born in the south of Ukraine in 1984. She left at the age of 12, when she moved to Cyprus. After finishing school, she moved to the UK where she studied Italian language and International Relations at the University of Warwick. After spending a year in Italy, Olia settled in London, pursuing a journalistic career after completing her Masters degree.
Following the financial crisis of 2008, Olia decided to quit her job as a film business reporter to pursue her dream to cook for a living. She trained at the renowned Leith’s School of Food and Wine. She worked as a chef in restaurants, including Ottolenghi, and as a recipe developer before landing a book deal for ‘Mamushka’, a cookbook that celebrates her family recipes, from Ukraine and Moldova to Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. Mamushka has won the prestigious Fortnum and Mason Award for Best Debut Cookbook 2016.
Olia was named the Observer Rising Star of 2015 and is currently finishing her second cookbook, called ‘Kaukasis: a culinary journey through Georgia, Azerbaijan and beyond’.
She lives in London with her son, writing, cooking and feeding her unceasing curiosity by researching food culture and culinary traditions of countries less explored.
(Photo credit: Kirstie Young)