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At home with Ukrainian chef Olia Hercules: 'Cooking is an act of defiance'

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the Ukrainian chef and author tests recipes, writes award-winning cookbooks and feeds her children. Today it’s chaotic: toys underfoot, Ukrainian tablecloths scattered on the sofa, huge houseplants that need watering… but her priority is lunch.

She rolls out an oval of pasta dough – it’s perfect, silky and supple – and cuts it into ribbons, just enough for two. Given what she’s going through I’m amazed she can cook, let alone cook for guests.

She offers the pasta, dressed with tomato sauce. ‘I have to make myself eat,’ she says firmly. ‘And if you eat, I will eat.’Hercules was born in south Ukraine but has lived in the UK since she came here, aged 18, to study Italian and international relations.

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