About Olia

Olia Portrait (by E.Heatherwick)

Olia Hercules was born in the south of Ukraine in 1984. She left her home town Kakhovka at the age of twelve, 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 Master’s 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 Leiths School of Food and Wine and then worked as a chef de partie 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.
Her second cookbook is called Kaukasis: a culinary journey through Georgia, Azerbaijan and beyond. It is published on August 10th in the UK and Australia and in October 2017 in the US, Canada, Germany and Poland.
She lives in London with her son Sasha and partner Joe, writing, cooking and feeding her unceasing curiosity by researching food culture and culinary traditions of countries less explored.
For press and event enquiries:

Publisher Mamushka and Kaukasis: Octopus Publishing Group

Literary agent – United Agents:
afeiner@unitedagents.co.uk (Ariella Feiner)

Video content and TV agent:
arice@unitedagents.co.uk (Aoife Rice)

Food styling agent:
rosana@styledepartment.co.uk (Rosana McPhee )



41 Comments on “About Olia

  1. Oh, what a delight! So happy I found you Olia. Passing you around all my Ukrainian American friends! I miss my mama’s borscht! Will try to make my own pot. Wish me luck…

    • Maryna, thank you so much! Really pleased it’s evoking memories for people all over the world. Please let me know how it goes – what worked and what hasn’t. I am hoping to do more videos, there will definitely be more recipes on my website.

      Oh, you made me so happy this morning! :))))

  2. Doroha Olia,
    I watched your demonstration on how to make the Ukrainian “zeleny borscht” with great interest. You are great. I like the way you feel so confident of yourself (after your experience, I believe you are) in what you are doing. I see you as a cossack cooking in the wild and wide steppes with only the blue sky as company. I left Ukraine in 1943 when I was 1 year old. Lived in German Labor Camps till 1950, and in France. Since 1956 in the USA, but I am always making red borscht and “zeleny borscht” all my adult life, and so are my three daughters. How wise our ancestors were to come up with such healthy and delicious dish. I have an original twist on both of them, and would like to share with you these secrets. If you are interested send me a note.
    with love,
    Halyna Boyko-Hrushetska

    • Halyna thank you so much for your beautiful message. It is incredible to hear all these stories and of course I would absolutely love to hear how you make borsht and other dishes that you managed to take with you. What an incredible story – you left when you were one?

      I miss the steppes and the vast blue sky. Every time I go back home (that’s after London’s oppressive low moody skyline) I marvel at how ‘high’ and enormous sky in Ukraine feels. Flat steppes and cloudless weather – make for an endless sky don’t they?

      Here is my email olia.hercules@gmail.com Would love to hear more from you!

      Yours, Olia

  3. HI Olia! I just started my own blog, where I want to introduce some Ukrainian recipes as well. Im from Kiev and live & work in London now. Its such a great to see how our Ukrainian traditions survive and shine in these hard times. Congratulations to you fantastic success and Good luck for future! Visit my blog and let me know what do you think, when you have a minute – http://www.biloshytska.com. BTW “We can do Do it!” is on my To Do list for one of my projects, so have to say – You bit me to it! Great profile picture! 🙂

  4. It was brilliant meeting you so unexpectedly in the Borders today, especially since I had just bought your book last week. Your food is lovely and I hope your career does really well. I look forward to planning what I want to cook. I love solyanka. We have a couple of Polish shops in Berwick, so maybe I can find the fermented gherkins there. I have only visited the Ukraine once, and that was the Crimean, where I liked the Tartar and Azeri food. I like this Azeri food site: http://www.azcookbook.com/ Ferida taught me about oreshki amd I have bought a special machine to make them. Thank you so very much for introducing us to the character and diversity of Ukrainian food.

  5. Hi Olia,
    I listened to your interview for Monocle,and you made me so emotional about the way you talked about Ukraine and it’s cusine.i also grew up in formerly communist country,and didn’t forget long queues and there was nothing available in shops.However I will never forget home made soups (barszcz,sauerkraut),dumplings with mushroom etc….I am so glad you wrote the book,and introduced such a beautiful country such as Ukraine and delicious food to the Western world.I am going to buy your cookbook and just want to tell you have a big fan now.
    I wish you all the best!!
    -from a Pole living in the UK.

    • Agata, thank you so much. I really really hope that it opens the way for other Eastern European writers. I would love to own an amazing Polish cookbook. I love Polish cuisine.
      My warmest wishes and thank you again, Olia

  6. Finally somebody introduces our great Ukrainian cuisine in the UK, it so deserves to be popular. I hope you will open the first Ukrainian restaurant where we can take our friends to let them enjoy the food.
    Mamushka could be a unusual Xmas gift for family and friends. Just ordered my copy from Amazon, looking forward to get it.
    All the best to you, Olia!!

    • Maryna thank you so much and sorry for replying so late. I really hope to open something very soon. It’s great to see there is demand for it. My warmest hugs, Olia

  7. Olia, thank you so much for the wonderful book, Mamushka! I think it had just been released in the US recently. I was born and grew up in Moscow, and emigrated to the US 15 years ago. The recipes in your book are so authentic! And the decorations are so lovely. I was pleasantly surprised to find many Caucus dishes in the book. My husband is Armenian from Baku and we both enjoy the recipes. Thank you!!!

    • Olga hello! One of my aunts is Armenian from Baku. I would be really interested to hear more about your husband and his family. How can I reach you? Email? Warmest wishes,

  8. Olia, I’ve just learned about your Mamushka cook book, congratulations! I loved the zeleny borscht video, and was surprised to see how familiar your face looked – you could be family. My parents left western Ukraine during the 1940’s and settled in Canada where I grew up, first child of immigrant parents. Our small Ukrainian community in PEI is already making plans for Sviat Vecher in January, to be held at my country home. Again, congratulations on your book and all your accomplishments!

  9. Hi! Was born in Chernivtsi,have been back a few times and there are some brilliant places to eat these days,,,,esp. Restaurant Knaus. Cannot find anywhere in London for this kind of food!! Solyanka., Banush., Kvas!! Any suggestions welcome!! PS where in Ukraine do you originate??

    • Hello!Sorry for the late reply. I am from the Kherson region, Kahovka 🙂 My father goes to Chernivtsi quite a lot. In terms of restaurants – watch this space. I am hoping in a year’s time – will open a relaxed place where you can taste all those things and more!

      • As long as you send us details when you open your own place!!! Best regards, Cornel Fleming,

  10. Hi, Olia! I am originally from Ukraine and live in London too – so happy to see you cooking the food that reminds me of my childhood. I got your book a while ago and love it so much! Thank you for your amazing work! Всього найкращого! Наталя.

    Natalya ❤ tatikprice.wordpress.com ❤

      • Olia, you are most welcome! I really admire your work and am a huge fan 🙂 And please do not apologise, you are a busy lady, thank you for taking the time to respond to everyone’s comments here! xxx

  11. Hi Olia, I just got your book as a Birthday present. I come from Ukraine (Zaporizhia) so my patner’s mum got it for me. I now live in London as well and recently became interested in cooking food I can remember from my childhood. Last couple of days I’ve been reading your book occasionally jumping on the spot saying “I am going to make this one and that one and that one as well!” Unfortunately I only cook veggie dishes, but I still eat meat and fish if someone else cooks them, so please do let us know when your restaurant is open as my guess is I will not be able to make a veggie salo 🙂 . Well done for the great book and good luck with all your future projects!

  12. A Xmas present from my daughter – Mamushka: Recipes from Ukraine & Beyond a wonderful read. Garlicky Georgian poussins is now a firm favourite in my corner of Spain. ¡Buen provecho!

  13. I’ve just watched your slow roasted pork belly with sour kraut – GORGEOUS – and I love the fact you gave the ideas for left overs too. You need to ask James what CFax is !!! I haven’t seen you cook before Olia but am definately going to follow you now 😃👍🏻😋

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  16. I lived and worked in Ukraine from 93 til 1998 my second home and miss it terribly.
    Heard on radio four today and memories came flooding back.

    I love pickles,sala and occasionally samagon.

    Thank you.

  17. Hi , I just made your ice cream cake recipie and its turned out brilliantly , first cake I e cooked in years

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  19. when you next in glasgow my grandaughter is called after you and i would love to see you

    • Wow…there is a little Olia in Glasgow?? You have just made my year sweet Ellen! I am indeed going to Glasgow in November, doing a dinner there. I would love to meet you! Warmest hug, Olia

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