Chef-turned-entrepreneur Lily Simpson talks to us about what inspires her, her fitness routine and how she unwinds after a busy day.
Tell us about how The Detox Kitchen came to be?
I set up my own catering company whilst training as a chartered surveyor. I quickly realised I wanted to be professionally involved in the food industry and so left the world of property to grow my private catering company. I ran the company for 18 month’s and secured clients including Red Bull, Estee Lauder and Jo Malone.
Whilst working in catering I was always looking for a business idea that would allow me to create a scalable company. I began researching healthy food and discovered there was a gap in the market for homemade, delicious, healthy food. I set up a website for daily home delivery packages and launched the company within two months of coming up with the initial idea. I kept the catering company going whilst I established a good cash flow for The Detox Kitchen, and by March 2012 the company was in full swing.
Where do you draw inspiration for recipes?
When I first decided to start a career in food I thought I wanted to create deliciously creamy French and Italian recipes, it was only after travelling through India and Asia that I realized that you could create incredibly delicious –and healthy- recipes with only fresh ingredients and a handful of spices.
Today I draw inspiration from whatever vegetables are in season, that’s really the secret to our food. Local, seasonal ingredients, which are picked at the peak of their harvest and taste amazing when brought to life with herbs and spices.
How do you know when something is just right?
I really do believe in trusting your intuition. I always have a gut feeling about things and as time has gone on I have learnt to trust that gut instinct. You will always have people in your life pulling you in different directions, having a vision is key – and listening to people- but in the end trust your gut.
What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to face?
I had my first baby last October and it has been the best experience of my life, but for the first time I have something else to prioritize over work. At times I have left a little torn, desperately wanting to be at work some days, other days wanting to dedicate myself to my family. Luckily I have an amazing mother who is wonderful with Finely, she’s now looking after him while I return to The Detox Kitchen full time. I suppose that has been my personal hurdle, there has of course been other bumps along the way but I never dwell on them. I always deal with them, accept that they have happened, try to put things in place to stop them happening in the future – and then move on. Never look back.
Any recipes that have gone terribly wrong?
Truth be told, I’m not the greatest baker. My cakes aren’t always fluffy and my bread doesn’t always rise…I’ve had more baking disasters than I care to remember. However, I’ve managed to create an amazing foolproof banana bread recipe, which I manage to get right every time. Recipe is in The Detox Kitchen Bible, and it is utterly delicious.
How do you unwind?
I used to do quite a lot of yoga. but I now find it hard to schedule it in more than a few times per week. Chilling out for me is taking a long walk in the park with my son and dog, Rudy. I love my job, and sometimes I find myself thinking about work all the time so I really have to work hard at prioritizing me time.
Do you have a fitness routine?
As I said, I struggle fitting in a routine nowadays…I just make sure I move in some way, every day. Most days that just means a hell of a lot of walking, I walk everywhere to/from work, meetings etc. I also throw in a yoga class twice per week and have recently got into meditation.
Any beauty secrets to share?
For me, less is always more. I’m not big on makeup or using artificial products on my skin. Firstly, I gave up dairy. That has had the biggest impact on my skin. Then I started using Pai products and have never looked back. Their rebalancing moisturizer is a lifesaver and I have an unnatural obsession with their rosehip oil (put it on face, hair, legs…everywhere).
Talk us through a typical, or not so typical day
I wake up at around 6am to prepare breakfast, my son is obsessed with my blueberry and cinnamon pancakes (as am I). Check out the recipe here to try them yourself. I then head over to our local park and go for about a 1-hour long walk, by which time my mother arrives to take over. Days at The Detox Kitchen can be very varied; I split my time between recipe testing at the kitchen, general management at our office and meetings at our deli. I try to leave work at a sensible hour (6pm) and do my best to leave work at work. Evenings of course, consist of cooking; I cook all my meals from scratch but never spend more than 30 minutes or so making my food.
What are your three favourite ingredients?
Garlic, ginger and chili.
Why the big jump from property development to food?
I’ve always loved food, but I suppose growing up I never saw it as an easy career path. I associated working as a chef with hectic kitchens with a Gordon Ramsay type character shouting orders at me. Once I saw a gap in the market I knew this was the only opportunity for me to turn a passion into a career. And so I did, and I love it.
How will the second cookbook (we’re excited!) differ from the first?
There are talks of another book, but no work has begun on this yet. We’re pretty busy with the launch of our new deli, new fitness studio and new pre-pack salad range (which are now available at Frame!).
And be sure to hop on over to Frame Shoreditch and Frame Kings Cross where The Detox Kitchen salads are also available! #FuelYourFrame
FINISH THE SENTENCE
My biggest vice is… kit kats or any type of unhealthy chocolate.
My ideal Sunday consists of…long country walks and my mum’s roast chicken.
The one thing that’s always in my handbag… poop bags for my dog Rudy!
Morning or night? Morning! Nighttime is for resting and sleeping!
My go-to breakfast is…either lime Bircher muesli, my pancakes or avo on toast.
People don’t know that I…am a Latin dance champion, rumba is my fave.