Meet Ollie Timberlake: a British chef in France

Jane Hanks talks to successful home chef Ollie Timberlake about her path to a life in Burgundy, how UK chefs’ reputation is changing and why France is food heaven

Ollie Timberlake is an Anglo-Jamaican chef who was trained in the UK but has worked in France for the past 25 years. She works as a “home” chef catering for private and business clients, for events such as weddings and also runs cooking courses. She is based in Burgundy in the village of Accolay, Yonne.

She says that cooking in France is a real pleasure: “I really love it. There are so many aspects. Each meal I create is different and even if I write down a recipe, there is always something that means it is never quite the same.

“After all this time working as a chef, it still excites me to know that I am making people happy and healthy through my food. Trying new ingredients and dishes, creating cooking, sharing and tasting, is the most wonderful part of my daily life.”

Why did you come to France?

When I left school I didn’t know exactly what to do; but I wanted to do something in the arts, like photography. But my mother said that was not a proper job and I liked cooking so why not do that?

She was a typical Jamaican ...

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