You would have to be living under a rock not to know the names Andi and Miquita Oliver.
The powerhouse mother-daughter duo are both household names in their own right – Andi, a renowned chef and broadcaster, and Miquita, a popular TV presenter and millennial icon.
This summer, Andi and Miquita have met in success, launching their very own podcast, Stirring It Up – and it is a sure-fire hit.
Filmed from Andi’s North London home, each episode sees the ever-hilarious Olivers host a celebrity guest and plus one for dinner. Together they break bread (or Caribbean chicken) around the kitchen table, with cocktails served up by Miquita, featuring homegrown herbs from her balcony “Moon Bar”.
Great food, interesting conversation and positive energy – Stirring It Up is pure comfort in podcast form. And its success is far from surprising.
In an effort to find out more, we stopped by the Olivers’ home and caught up with the pair as they prepared to host Ed Gamble and his wife for episode six.
Our findings? That Andi and Miquita are as real and cool as they come, and we came away happier, wiser and more empowered just being in their presence.
The vibe was completely as you would imagine – the house was full of kind, lively people and their sweet dog Scout. Miquita was running around making teas for everyone and Andi was cutting peaches – preparing an escabeche fritter dish in honour of her partner’s late mother Lynette.
Unlike most interviews, there were zero formalities – the three of us just sat around the famous kitchen table with Andi passing us slices of peach to sample as we discussed challenges, mistakes and words of advice like old friends. It was just like Stirring It Up – pure warmth and comfort.
Features Editor Jenny Proudfoot meets Andi and Miquita Oliver
Let’s go back to the start of Stirring It Up…
ANDI: Well, in lockdown we started recording our lives – we were both cooking and jumping around the house, and needed to fill 15 hour days. And so we started What’s for Dinner Mummy? – Miquita didn’t like the name, but it turned out everyone else did so I won! And we just had a really great time – we got really galvanised and quite inspired by it actually. And it kind of reconnected us, not just to each other and our family – my partner Garfield and my mum. But it was a way of reaching our wider community that we weren’t able to see. It was like a way of people paying us a visit and a way of us sharing that with other people. Then, after lockdown we got really busy again and stopped recording, but people have been talking to us about doing a podcast for ages. They kept coming up with these really quite highly conceptualised ideas and it just didn’t feel natural for us to do something like that. And then Miquita said, why don’t we just do what we always do? Let’s do What’s for Dinner Mummy? – let’s just have people around, and do the thing that we’ve always done that has made us who we are.
MIQUITA: We created our family around our dinner table and now we have a huge extended family outside of our blood family. We are a sharing family – we like to give and it’s nice to have an environment where people can be fed and loved up. That’s what we did when we didn’t have anything and we still do now that we have so much more. So with Stirring It Up, we wanted to make the best dinner party that you don’t even have to leave your house to go to. And I thought it was a really ‘genius’ idea on my part when I suggested that our guests bring a guest, because then it’s a real dinner party, and that has really changed it. And that is something that has always happened at our dinner parties anyway – people are always bringing people and that is how our family has grown.
And the podcast is literally filmed around your kitchen table – was that an important detail for you?
ANDI: It really was. As soon as we worked out that this was what we wanted to do, it just felt right. We could do this in a studio somewhere, but it wouldn’t have the same energy because our guests wouldn’t be literally coming to ours. One thing that neither of us like in any type of broadcasting is facsimile or pretension. So we bring as much truth to everything that we do as is possible. So if we’re saying, it’s around our kitchen table, it’s because it’s around our kitchen table, and we want that energy to be within the recording itself. We want that vibe, you know, where people take their shoes off and Scout’s barking and grandma is walking around the house. I mean, there are a million podcasts out there – it’s such a flooded market in so many ways but you can’t let that stop you. That’s like saying, I’m not going to make any new music because there’s already so much music that has been made. That’s not really how it works. You have to be as authentic and true to yourself as possible. Create your own space, use your own true voice and really give it all your heart. And then you see whether or not other people receive it.
MIQUITA: Also, it’s good for people to see a continuation of our lives. I think we have always shared so much of our life with everyone. I’ve always found it a really calming, comforting sound – the sound of people over a table, exchanging stories and talking, and I hope it makes people feel safe and warm and kind of coddled. Everything we do has people, stories and love running through it.
What message do you hope people take from Stirring It Up?
ANDI: I want people to remember how easy it is to share simple good things and how much you can get from that. When Miquita was small, I was living on barely anything, and I could still take five pounds and turn it into a dinner party. That was the way that we sustained ourselves as a family but also gave ourselves a social life. I mean, I was a 20-year-old single parent – you need to still feel like you’re in the world. You can’t just feel like it’s you and the baby and no grown up talking otherwise you’d lose your mind.
MIQUITA: How dare you – I bet I was bloody great company. But it’s funny because Lily [Allen] is coming over as a guest in a few weeks. And the first thing she asked for was, can I have Andi chicken? She asked for “childhood Andi chicken and rice”. And it’s like, oh right, that’s not just a meal. That’s Lily saying, can I come over and be transported back to that time of us being kids? And that meal is a fiver. It’s honey baked chicken, rice, avocado salad, and loads of gravy. The loads of gravy is very key. But Lily and I have been so lucky to eat so many incredible things in so many incredible places, all around the world, especially Lil – fancy bitch. And this is what she wants – you know, it’s about more than food. That’s the whole point.
How has working together changed your relationship?
MIQUITA: What’s for Dinner Mummy? really changed things for me, because I didn’t want to do it at the start. It was lockdown, I was going through quite a lot, the world was going through quite a lot, and then mum suddenly wanted me to come over every Thursday to film. I was like, what is the point? And then she said, everything is something Miquita, and I really listened to her. And she was right because it was the beginning of us figuring out a way to have autonomy and freedom in this industry. And it was the beginning of our careers and meeting in success at the same time. I’d had a very successful career and then lost everything, and was sort of getting things back. And Mum was in this huge place with Great British Menu, but then lockdown stopped everything. So there was all this momentum – I had just started working again, and so to put it all in this place where we were in charge was really powerful and really exciting. And it led to other things – I taught myself to edit which led on to being part of the edit for the BBC show – it led on to us deciding we wanted to have a production company. It really was the beginning of everything. And I loved that the beginning of these last incredible three years of our careers started in our kitchen. So that I think feels very true to us.
It must be difficult to find a work/ life balance…
MIQUITA: It is actually because work is a part of so much of our lives now. I mean, there was a point when mum and I were only seeing each other at Gogglebox filming. But the thing is because it’s always been me and mum, it just feels like we’re on this big crazy adventure. We started being poor in West London working out how to survive, and now we’re here. Obviously we have my beautiful stepdad who we’ve had for 25 years, but there’s still an element of me and mum that’s like us out in the world being a team, so this is just another chapter of that.
How do you celebrate success?
ANDI: Well, we have to take a moment and remind ourselves actually quite often. When we were in Antigua really recently, my cookbook had just come out and we got the news that it was number one in the country. We were just like, Oh my god! And we took a moment and properly gave thanks. So we went and stood in the ocean and gave thanks to Yaya the goddess, to the moon, to the stars, and then had a pina colada. It’s easy to forget to take the time out to do that when you’re this busy, because it can just become a roller coaster. But I think it’s important to do it.
MIQUITA: Also, there’s my childhood and my mum being in her 20s, which was obviously a very different life. But there’s also five years ago when we were sharing an Oyster card. You know, this has not been for that long, so there’s a lot of gratitude. And there’s definitely a lot of awareness of what we’ve managed to do, where we’ve managed to get to, and if anything, that just spurs us all on more.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
MIQUITA: I think the biggest thing I went through was bankruptcy when I was 27. And that was something that I never thought I’d survive, or even be able to get through the first week. And when I think about it now I’m really proud of the little girl that went through that. Not only was it really hard emotionally for me, but for everyone to know and to have all that shame put on you when you’re so young, and being in all the papers – that was a real challenge for me. I even did a TV show two months after it happened about young people in debt and about not hiding from debt, and I had to talk openly about going bankrupt on the telly. And I thought, god you were a brave little shit. And, you know, not to mention financially the things it taught me like, you know, how to really look after yourself, and to believe that you deserve the money that you’re making – to be prospering is not something to be scared of. And now I’m not. And back then I was – I didn’t think I deserved it. I didn’t think I deserved all these riches in all the ways – opportunity, money, being recognised in that way, being known – I just didn’t think I deserved any of it. But now I feel very differently. And I think it’s because I went through that. So thank you very much bankruptcy. I like to say thank you to most things that have killed me because they didn’t.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?
ANDI: I think for me, when I was younger, it was allowing other people to dictate to me how I feel about myself and to silence my voice. And certainly to allow that to push me down roads that were really kind of self-destructive and quite damaging for myself – just allowing emotionally abusive situations into my life. But again, it’s like if I hadn’t gone through that and survived it, and managed to pull myself out of some of those situations, like literally haul myself back up onto the shore, then I wouldn’t be who I am now.
MIQUITA: That’s the main thing you learn in therapy isn’t it – not to run from that stuff. Do not run from your shadow – that stuff is not shadowy, that stuff makes you stronger and not running from it will let you find real love for yourself. I didn’t realise that was on the other side of all that stuff. Now I really like to talk about my mistakes. I like to talk about where we came from. I’m not embarrassed that me and mum had no money – I think it’s a beautiful thing that we had nothing and now we have so much more because of what happened and how hard we’ve worked. And we continue to share what we’ve got with everyone through what we do. We hope everything we do has impact and makes people feel.
What lessons have you learnt through Stirring It Up?
MIQUITA: For me, it was remembering that it doesn’t have to look like everything else. We wanted Stirring It Up visually to look how things look for us. We want movement, chaos, to show our brilliant team, to show our real home, and to show our family. I learned how powerful that is from What’s for Dinner, Mummy? because people would tell us in the streets every day and on Instagram, thank you for just showing us something real.
ANDI: It’s also been interesting working properly with audio. We’re so used to being visual all the time, so it’s really important for us to step away from that and remember that this is an auditory medium. Even little pauses – in a visual medium they are very different because there are other visual signals happening. But when you’re in an auditory arena, you feel it and 30 seconds can feel like five minutes. Trust me, I took the whole BBC off air once – including the world service, so I’m speaking from experience. I was literally learning to drive a radio desk live on air, and one day I pushed the wrong button and took that whole ship down. It was for about 45 seconds but it felt like an hour. So working in an auditory medium is really interesting, because you can change the rhythm and flow, and actually give space and time in a different way. And the brilliant thing about it is the extra intimacy. It’s like crossed lines years ago, where sometimes with landlines you would click in on another person’s phone call. I used to love it, and I would just sit there and listen to two people I had never heard of or met chatting – there was just a brilliant intimacy in that. I always think that a really great radio show, a really good podcast or anything within this medium should have that kind of closeness and intimacy. And it’s been really interesting to work with that again, and really think about the flow and what you want to achieve with every beat of it.
Let’s talk dream podcast guests and how you choose them…
MIQUITA: I think it was really important for us to not slide into press run territory – there’s a real roll call of people that do the podcast guest round. And that’s totally fine, but we’ve really enjoyed interviewing people that aren’t necessarily just promoting something. Brilliant people who we love and that we’re interested in. I’ve been interviewing people since I was 15 so I’ve always found that enriching and I love being able to ask anyone anything. I really want Ian Wright, Joanna Lumley and her composer husband. Also Stormzy, Dave and definitely Kano. It’s really exciting to me who they could bring as their guest – it could be Kano’s mum, his manager or his best friend, but that mixing is important to us.
ANDI: We’ve got some really cool people coming up that we’ve been fans of for a long time and never met before. You want people to be interested in what you’re doing, but actually to want to come and be part of it, that really means a lot to us. I’d like Julie Walters because I love her so much, Maggie Smith obviously and Tom Stoppard would be cool. And I want Skepta and for him to bring his family. The thing is, people are interesting, and I think that’s the thing for us – it’s not about celebrity. Obviously, the people that we’ve had so far have been well known, but what we love about them bringing a guest is that it’s not about that. It’s about the relationship that they have together, and what they mean to each other – what family means, and that’s when it gets really interesting.
What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
ANDI AND MIQUITA: Swimming with turtles!
MIQUITA: We swam with turtles for our BBC show around the Caribbean. It was day two of filming and they were like, now you’re going to swim with turtles in the deep ocean. Now, we love to be in the ocean and we’re both brilliant swimmers, but we were just not feeling that open water. And this was like flippers, goggles, an engine that zooms you forwards and back, and a whole massive crew filming you. It was us, two beautiful girls we were interviewing who had moved to Antigua and also our cousin Safana. We were all scared but we did it and it was such an interesting experience. To have five Black women in generationally different ages in the water was just beautiful and I just thought it was such a powerful moment in television. But also for us personally, we were just like, that’s it. Be brave, because you never know what’s going to be on the other side – remember the turtles!
Do you have a mantra?
MIQUITA: If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough – that really felt like our mantra for last year. And now because of all that bravery, what we’ve been through and the courage we’ve had to keep going, I think that’s made our dreams get even bigger. And now we feel fear differently. Fear doesn’t go anywhere, but you have to do something else with it, and we know we must be on the right track if we feel it. With the podcast, we’re co-producers, and that’s a big deal and a big undertaking for us creatively. It’s a lot of hard work making all these things happen. But that’s why you have to have your people around you. It shouldn’t be let’s go to work and then we’ll have a nice time. You have to find the joy in all of it, because what we’re doing right now is joyous. It’s been beautiful to watch all of our team – they’re part of our family and they’re almost all women. Our agents, socials, assistants, stylists, PR, make up etc. – they are all women – it’s beautiful. And we all work really hard. We’ve all changed our careers, not just me and mum, but their careers have changed over the last three years because of what we’re all doing together. So it’s not just about my and mum’s dreams. It’s about everyone’s dreams being big and us all holding each other.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
ANDI: People used to tell me that I was a really powerful person, and I would be like what are you on about? If I was a powerful person, would I be sitting here with £2, this baby that won’t shut up and chicken wings in the oven?! I didn’t know what they were talking about, but it turns out they were right. And now that I’m older, I really feel my power and it’s exciting. I met a young Black girl the other day and as we were talking I realised that she was speaking in code about being the only Black kid in her class and the problems that she was having. She didn’t want to say it because she was with some of the teenagers that she goes to school with – they were lovely people, but I could tell she wasn’t able to have this conversation with everybody. And so I told her to look into my eyes, and I said, I was the only Black girl in my school. Do you think I’m a powerful, amazing person? And she said yeah and I went, you’re right, I am and it’s my superpower. My superpower is that I survived, and my superpower is that those people with their nastiness, their bad minds and their awful behaviour taught me to never be that. To never behave like that, to be kind, to be good, to listen and to give love. So it’s your superpower. And literally her eyes welled up with tears and we had this hug – I’ve never had a hug before like it in my life. And I felt so like I was sent there to see that kid.
MIQUITA: Mine was from Margaret Busby – the first black British female book publisher. She’s an extraordinary woman. In September 2019, me and mum hosted the Cheltenham Literature Festival for Sky Arts. I was just starting to work again, and what a thing to work on. We were interviewing so many incredible people and I just had this incredible zeal and lust for life again, and I felt so alive. And Margaret Busby said to me, the most powerful thing we have is our energy. And I thought she meant the energy to get up every day. But now I know, after three more years of therapy and life, that your energy can affect everything. As in, it’s Newton’s law. It’s not that what you get out comes back to you. It’s that what you are emitting becomes your reality – it becomes your universe. I didn’t realise what she meant. But it’s everything. And I love knowing that now, it makes me feel very powerful. This is the greatest thing about advice or great words. You hear them, and then you take them in, you say it, you live it, you believe it, then it just is, and then you just are. You become these words. It’s not just a good bit of advice that Margaret Busby gave me, It’s now how I live and who I am.
ANDI: I’ve just realised the question was the best advice that anyone’s ever given me and I ended up telling you the best advice I’ve ever given!! I’ll go again. I interviewed Maya Angelou years ago, and I will never forget it. She told me that every time she went to write a new book, she thought she was going to get caught out for being a fraud, and that everybody would find that she couldn’t really write a book. This was Maya Angelou for God’s sake! And she said it used to get so bad that to start writing, she would go and check herself into a motel. And I said, a hotel? And she went no honey, a motel – like the most daggy awful place you could think of, with no art on the walls – no pictures, no writing, not even fire escape regulations. Because if she’d had fire regulations on the wall, she’d stand there reading that 400 times, instead of writing. It had to be a naked, terrible motel with nothing in it – that’s the only way she could get herself to start writing. And I thought, do you know what, listen to what this Goddess Empress is telling you. You’re sitting across the table from Dr. Maya Angelou and she’s telling you that even somebody with that kind of towering mind, energy and spirit did not believe she had the right to be who she was. So I was like, well if Maya Angelou could feel like that I can forgive myself for feeling like that. And I can understand that it’s something that we all go through. So whenever I feel that imposter Syndrome, I remember Dr Angelou, and remind myself of that.
Stirring It Up with Andi and Miquita Oliver is available now.