Michel Roux Jr may be the big-name gastronomic giant lording it over the Langham and its recently installed cookery school, Sauce, but his right-hand-woman Millie Simpson is the one keeping its oven hot. As kitchen manager, she’s the culinary brain in charge of the course calendar, and the person you’re most likely to be spending the day with if you sign up for a class.
With two London-leading restaurants, a hotlist-topping bar and the birthplace of afternoon tea under its roof, the Langham is the perfect playground for any chef-tutor, and its reputation as one of the capital’s very grandest dames comes with equal parts kudos and expectation attached. Here, Millie explains how close connections to the legendary hotel’s kitchens help make it one of the most exciting and accomplished additions to the UK cookery-school landscape – and tells us how she went from working behind the scenes on the set of Saturday Kitchen to taking centre-stage at the stoves of Sauce…
How did you end up working with Michel Roux Jr?
I began working in food television, making food behind the scenes for the chefs. Slowly this turned into larger productions and eventually I found myself working in Chef Michel’s cooking school. I gained experience in his kitchens across London and was fortunate enough to come to the Langham and work on Sauce from the ground up. We have been open since June 2019.
How would you describe the atmosphere in the Sauce kitchen?
It’s really all about fun! Regardless of whether you book an online class, a private or corporate event, we really just want people to feel comfortable and for it all to feel approachable. It’s a day to indulge in food and drink, get all your questions answered by professionals and get inspired by the kitchen – whether it’s new to you or not.
Do you have a favourite course or topic to teach?
I really enjoy all the classes and especially love seeing people surprised and proud of what they achieve. I love Italian food so our Master the Pasta class is one of my favourites.
How often do you introduce new classes, and how do you decide what to teach?
This is our first festive season and we are currently uploading classes for 2020. We have received a lot of feedback from guests in our opening year so we are using that information to create new topics and classes. We release dates to the website three months at a time.
There are a lot of cookery schools in London – what do you think makes Sauce stand out?
We’re in a very lucky position to be a part of the Langham London. This gives us an added element of luxury and ensures that all the details of the day are hitting a high standard – from the ingredients you cook with to the service around the table. That, plus the fact that all of our chefs are working professionals who hold a great deal of knowledge on their subject. They are stepping away from service to spend a day with you and share their skills.
What sort of relationship does Sauce have with the Langham’s restaurant kitchens?
We are a part of the Langham kitchen brigade so we have a very close relationship. I have spent time personally working in all of our outlets and we all work closely together on a daily basis. Sauce is a great platform for all of our chefs and F&B colleagues to showcase their skills to the public.
Where do your ingredients come from?
At The Langham, we have the privilege of working with amazing suppliers from all over the UK and the rest of Europe. A great deal of care is taken in selecting our produce and we are always looking for local, seasonal items that tell a story. From our Italian cheese made in London by La Latteria to our amazing meat from the Lake District Farmers, we have some very special ingredients and our chefs are very happy to work with them.
Are some people are just bad cooks, or can everyone be saved?
I believe anyone can be saved! These classes are great for introducing people to cooking and showing them how easy it can be. I think, with a bit of help, everyone can get to the point where they at least have a couple of specialities they can cook up.
Are there any ingredients that you don’t actually like?
I’m really not a fussy eater. If I had to pick something that I’m not too fussed about it would be oysters.
What are your three desert-island dishes?
This is very hard to narrow down but I’ll go for: some kind of fresh tortellini; baked Alaska; and delicious fresh bread and salted butter.
The list could go on and on.
See more of Millie on Instagram: @milliemangetout