Chef, writer and illustrator Letitia Ann Clark published her first cookbook, Bitter Honey: Recipes and Stories from the Island of Sardinia, last year. “One of the best cookbooks of 2020” according to the Times, Bitter Honey is also an ode to her adopted homeland and a welcome incitement to eat cake whilst drinking Campari. She trained at Leiths School of Food & Wine in London after a master’s degree in english literature. She has cooked at Spring, The Dock Kitchen and Moro in London, grew up in Devon and now lives in Sardinia.
Truant or treat?
I was mostly very well-behaved, though I was easily lead astray. I had one very naughty friend who used to get us both in trouble. Otherwise I was a real goody-two-shoes.
A teacher you want to thank and why?
Mrs Strickland, my primary school teacher, who was great and always believed in me and encouraged me.
Headmistress for the day?
I’d be terrible. I’m horribly disorganized and loathe admin. I would probably take the whole school on a long walk, and point out all the edible things they can pick and we’d go hunting for animals. I am a complete nature freak: when I was a volunteer teacher I used to take my class on ‘discovery’ walks, or we’d cook in the classroom. I don’t think the other teachers were impressed, but the kids loved it.
I was always good at English, mostly because I was a voracious reader. Art was my second best subject.
Bottom of the class?
I was bad at History because it was the only class I had with my best friend, so we spent the entire time gossiping instead of listening to the teacher.
State or independent?
Independent. My school was called Badminton, it’s in Bristol.
Hmm…. I never did anything bad work-wise, but as I said previously I had a naughty friend who persuaded me to sneak out of school (we were all-girls) to meet up with some boys from the local boys’ school down the road. One of them was her boyfriend, and they kissed on a bench whilst I just hung around looking like a lemon. Then we both got suspended as someone told on us and I was mortified.
School of life: how did your education prepare you (or not) for what was to come?
I was pretty sheltered. In terms of academia we were brilliantly prepared, but in terms of life I was very naive. Especially because of the all-girls concept. I think I thought men were an alien race when I left school, I was petrified of them.
In what way do you think your education influenced your future career.
The school definitely encouraged us to become free-thinkers, and to work and fight hard for what we believed in. It taught me to work hard, and that hard work would be rewarded. I was very happy at school, and I think I was incredibly lucky too. We were given a lot of guidance and attention. So much so that after school I struggled to maintain the rigid structure. I still struggle with that. We were so spoon-fed.
Do you think you are well educated?
Yes, I’d say so. Thanks to the school and the brilliant teachers I had. Nothing to do with me!