The Michel Roux Jr Cookery School at Cactus Kitchens in South West London is a superbly equipped and stylish teaching kitchen. Tucked under the eaves of a former chapel, they share a home with Cactus TV the independent production company behind numerous popular cooking programmes, including the BBC ONE hit show, Saturday Kitchen Live.
Imbued with Michel Roux Jr’s energy and enthusiasm for teaching and inspiring beginners and accomplished cooks alike, their practical, pacey classes cover essential kitchen skills, cooking seasonal
menus with Michel’s protégés, to master classes with Michel, Monica Galetti and a host of renowned chefs.
The Michel Roux Jr Cookery School prides itself on delivering first-class teaching in a convivial, relaxed environment with plenty of time for tasting and talk. From the moment you put on your apron you’ll be active, engaged, and entertained. Taught by friendly Roux-trained chefs with a wealth of experience who work in professional kitchens and cook with flair and passion, you are welcomed into the Roux family to learn their top tips.
Meet the chef: Millie Simpson, 26 is Head Chef at The Michel Roux Jr Cookery School at Cactus Kitchens, London.
How did you start out in the food industry?
I was working as a runner on ‘Saturday Morning Kitchen ‘ in my teens about ten years ago I first came into contact with the food industry so I learnt a great deal behind the scenes working with the food economists. I worked with various food production companies over the next few years and then in 2014 I started helping out part-time at Cactus Kitchens with kitchen prep. The opportunity came up to take on a permanent role heading up the kitchen team and I jumped at the chance. Since I’ve been here I’ve also completed a ‘Stage ‘ at ‘Le Gavroche’ Michel Roux Jr’s flagship restaurant. Spending a few days in the kitchens of a Michelin starred restaurant is hugely inspiring and I’m continually learning from all the great chefs I come into contact with here.
What inspires you about working with food?
I am passionate about sustainability , working with fresh produce, local and seasonal produce. I love to educate people about health and nutrition but not in a restrictive sense- but to talk about what we have always been eating using what we have in its natural form. The ‘Roux Way’ is French at heart but translates anywhere- working with fresh ingredients.
What do you love about working at The Michel Roux Jr Cookery School?
Working here gave me a chance to learn classic French cooking and I believe passionately in learning the basics, the discipline of what works and then seeing students go ‘off-piste’ and discover their creative flair having mastered the rudiments of theory, putting their own spin on things. For me, true innovation comes from knowing which rules you are breaking.
What are you most proud of?
The team – we are a small and incredibly dedicated team. We have built up from a team of 2 to 6 people and we work very hard but we love it! The school has a relaxed convivial atmosphere. We are most proud of our customers’ experience too. When you come to the school it is like you are being welcomed into the Roux family, we laugh, learn and eat together like a family where you are let into their world, family share their secrets and learn top tips. We take customer feedback very seriously and take on board what they like and try to incorporate the requests we get in feedback.
How does the future look?
Just to grow, expand and be running 24/7, with different locations and do more of what we love!