Five minutes with… Olivia Potts

I came to food writing as a second career after practising as a criminal barrister. I'd planned and trained for the bar for years, so I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. When it came to food writing, it was a bit different. To be honest, when I started out I had no idea what I was doing: I'd never pitched an article (or written one), I'd never written (or seen) a book proposal. I was very enthusiastic but pretty clueless. I jumped straight into freelancing and working from home, so I've found the support, community and friendship of the Guild invaluable. I was hugely grateful to established writers and members of the Guild who offered me encouragement and advice, reassurance and a glass of wine – I couldn't believe it when real life cookbook writers were willing to propose and second my application.

Last year, my first book was published by Fig Tree, Penguin. A Half Baked Idea is a memoir about my slightly weird career change and studying at Le Cordon Bleu, as well as the intersection between grief and cooking, food and love. It won the Fortnum & Mason debut food book award.

This year I won the Guild's food writing award. It was both an enormous surprise and the greatest possible encouragement. Having judged a category previously, I know how high the standard is, and how much work goes into both the running and the judging of the awards. It's really spurred me on, in a year that I think all food writers have found tough, and I feel very lucky to be a part of this community.