Photograph: Emma Lee

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 won the prestigious Fortnum and Mason Award for best debut cookbook 2016. It has been translated into ten languages, and to date has sold over 150,000 copies worldwide. Olia was named the Observer Rising Star of 2015.

Her second cookbook is called Kaukasis: a culinary journey through Georgia, Azerbaijan and beyond. It was published on August 10th in the UK and Australia and in October 2017 in the US, Canada, Germany and Poland.

Olia’s latest two cookbooks with Bloomsbury are Summer Kitchens, a book that explores Ukrainian regional cooking and Home Food, an ode to cooking for her family.

Olia lives in London with her sons Sasha and Wilf, and husband – fellow food writer and photographer Joe Woodhouse, writing, cooking and feeding her unceasing curiosity by researching food culture and culinary traditions of countries less explored.

The day after the Russians attacked Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, Olia co-founded a movement with her friend Alissa Timoshkina, called #CookForUkraine and to date they have raised over £2 million pounds for UNICEF, Legacy Of War Foundation and Choose Love.

They also received an award called Champions of Change from 50 Best Restaurants, as well as a grant. They have consequently set up an initiative called Ukraine Hub, where they provide free workshops (from cookery to flower arranging to intuitive drawing) for displaced Ukrainians in the UK.

Olia also runs an online cookery school and community through the Patreon subscription platform and posts videos of Ukrainian cooking and beyond on YouTube.

For press and event enquiries:

Literary agent – United Agents: (Ariella Feiner)