Renowned British chef, TV, and radio host, Andi Oliver, popularly known as the host of Great British Menu, has published her first cookbook, ‘The Pepperpot Diaries’, which explores her life’s journey and Caribbean culture.
In an interview with the Independent, she shared her journey and motivations that brought her to where she is.
Andrea “Andi” Oliver was born in London and started cooking at the age of seven. She recalls being sacked from her home economics class because she questioned her teacher’s cooking method. Oliver learned cooking from her mother and took charge of cooking for herself and her brother, while her parents were busy with their careers. Although her parents ended up separating, Oliver says she had a good childhood.
Speaking on her expectations for the cookbook, which combines recipes and stories from different heritages, Andi said, “One of the things I really hope [with this book] is that people start to think about that difference and celebrate it.” In one of her entries, she discussed how slavery influenced the Caribbean’s food culture.
She mentions her experience with racism, saying that people in England told her to ‘go home’ even though she was a citizen. She confesses that she went through a “big angry phase” in her twenties, and recollected that her anger and fury used to ‘work against’ her quite a lot.
Before she became the great restaurateur that she is now, she was a member of the band, Rip Rig + Panic which once appeared on an episode of The Young Ones. She was also involved in an African-inspired band called ‘Kalimba.’ However, she transitioned to working in TV, debuting on Backstage at The Brits.
Andi has been on shows like Badaas Tv with Ice T, and the award-winning documentary, Crazy Sexy Cool. She covered Glastonbury for the BBC for 6 years, as well as other BBC festival shows. She has worked with the BBC since then, alongside her personal projects.
The 59-year-old attributes age and experience to shaping her. “As an adult woman who’s about to turn 60, I understand who I am and my power and where I come from and where I belong – where I have the right to be and where I want to be.”
Advising her fans, Andi says it is good to redirect and channel negative emotions into a form of strength, and “not the storm that wearies you.”