Emily Watkins came from a family where people had to fight for the kitchen – her mother and two sisters were all keen cooks. She remembers her childhood as one filled with experimentation and culinary disaster, telling the Good Food Guide she was always trying to cook, but “would never listen to instructions – this is from age six or seven.” Her own passion for cooking was born out of greed: “I always loved eating” she says. Her mother manages a country house hotel in their home county of Dorset, so they were all roped into helping out in the kitchen. However, her family tried to dissuade her from pursuing a career as a chef, unsure of the realistic possibilities such a path offered – particularly for females. They instead steered her towards university and a degree in business, but her original aspirations never went away and post-graduation, after a torturous six months working in an office, she upped sticks for Italy.