Born in Edinburgh
Became a director of Valvona & Crolla
Published Easy Peasy: Real Food for Kids Who Want to Cook with Pru Irvine
Published Dear Francesca, a cook book and family history
Valvona & Crolla opened VinCaffè, a restaurant, wine bar and café
Published Dear Olivia, a cook book and history addressed to her second daughter
Published Valvona & Crolla, A Year at an Italian Table

My earliest memory is... of my very small, grey pram outside my daddy's ice cream shop in the fishing village where we grew up. It was parked next to my sister's and I remember vividly that hers was much bigger. I must have been two, and that's the root of my competitiveness!

My father, unusually for an Italian man, was determined to educate us. He sent us all to Edinburgh to get a Catholic, private education. All eight of us went to university, encouraged by him. His big ambition was to get us away from the family business because it was just a stepping-stone for immigrants. His earliest memories were of really struggling to make a living.

"You'll end up behind the counter," said my dad when I married Philip. He was a wee bit disappointed because he knew that if I married into an Italian family with a business I would end up working as hard as he had.

But the first thing I did as a young bride was insist I became a company director. No woman had ever been allowed onto the board at Valvona & Crolla. One maiden aunt had worked her whole life in the business without being given shares. I told my mother-in-law, "If I'm going to have a career within the business, I need to be a director." I put my foot down, and that's what happened.

My convent school education had a very strong influence over the rest of my life. We had to queue up at twelve o'clock and say the angelus for twenty minutes, which you didn't want to do at fourteen. But the spiritual experience, music and faith of the Catholic Church were very beautiful and inspiring. As an adult, I try, very hard, to encourage people to do their best. Money is not the thing that drives me; it's more about always striving to be the best at what we do.

You can work round the clock in pursuit of those goals, and I think that's what we've done! As it's a family business, too, it can be all consuming. We talk about it over the dinner table; it's a way of life.