After training at Leith’s famous cookery school and working for the likes of Yotam Ottolenghi, Olia Hercules is a rising star of the culinary world. Working as a recipe writer and food stylist, Hercules contributes to top food magazines and has made several TV appearances on shows such as Saturday Kitchen. Her debut cookbook Mamushka: Recipes from Ukraine and Beyond brought us the gastronomic delights of her home country Ukraine to much critical acclaim, and her next book Kaukasis: A culinary journey through Georgia, Azerbaijan and beyond is out 10 August 2017.
Needless to say, all this first-hand research has made Hercules a rather frequent flyer, so we asked her to share her five inflight essentials.
“I really like the Hungarian brand Omorovicza. Their cleansing mask is amazing and so is their hydrating spray. I take it with me when I travel. I often take an old-school Soviet sleeper train from Kiev to my home town (it’s a twelve hour journey after the 3.5 hour flight from London). In winter they really crank up the heat in the carriages so your skin needs a lot of help!”
“I miss the times when I had perfectly manicured hands, but those times are sadly gone. I have worker’s hands now. I cook a lot and my hands have become quite veiny and dry and covered in burns, and my fingertips have gone completely asbestos. I do try to keep them moisturised as much as I can though. I squeeze a bit of the rose hand cream into a small jar and use it throughout my journey. The smell makes me relax too.”
“I can’t have my feet feeling uncomfortable. So it is always Birkenstocks in the summer and Blundstone boots in winter especially when I travel. I am on my feet a lot. When we were shooting my second cookbook in the Caucasus we’d work from 6am to 10pm for ten days in a row or longer. I’d stand no chance without comfy footwear.”
“My father’s friend is originally from Orenburg in Russia where they make the most beautiful goat lace shawls. It is an essential on a plane (when aircons can become extremely fierce). I’ve got one hand-made by our friend’s mother, that I’ve been using for the past ten years (it has travelled with me to the weirdest places). It’s light and compact and incredibly warm.”
“I have been using Bose headphones for about 15 years. I love proper, chunky ones. If you are tired they are excellent at cancelling the noise out. I will never be the person that unsympathetically tuts at your toddler for throwing a tantrum on a plane…I make sure that I cannot hear them (I highly recommend that). I now have a wireless pair that I do not leave the house without.”
“I have a five-year-old son so reading books at home is very rare for me, which I miss so much. I always take a book with me if I travel alone. I have just finished Stories I Stole from Georgia by Wendell Steavenson – an excellent account on life in raucous 1990s Caucasus.”