IN CONVERSATION WITH LILY SIMPSON

Founder of Detox Kitchen

Thanks so much for speaking to INSPIRE today! I’ve read a bit about your background and how Detox Kitchen got started and it’s all very inspiring. Can you speak a little about what sparked the idea for Detox Kitchen and how you started it up?

I started the Detox Kitchen in 2012 after running my own catering company for two years. I wanted to focus on healthy eating and after researching the market I saw that there was a gap for really delicious healthy food. I launched our home delivery service in March 2012 and we had strong demand from day one. I spent most of the first year in the kitchen, perfecting our recipes and making sure that the food I was creating was the highest quality. I think our focus on quality and flavour kept the customers coming back and we grew organically on repeat custom and recommendations.

What motivated you to work so hard when you were a one-woman show?

During my education I struggled with my stress levels when revising for exams, and I have also suffered from IBS. I always turn to food to help with these issues and by starting the business I wanted to show other people how they can help themselves too.

In a country where there is so much choice, sometimes we forget to just enjoy simple produce, cooked from our homes. And that is what we try to achieve with the food we cook at The Detox Kitchen.

Can you describe what your day-to-day at Detox Kitchen looks like now?

I try to spend at least three days a week at our kitchen and office in Battersea as I am far more productive there and can actually allow time to sit down and reply to emails. Yesterday I spent the morning in the kitchen working with our head chef on revamping our pre-packed salads. The colours of the finished products were so vibrant and we can’t wait to roll them out.

On a day that I’m up in town I like to pop into our Kingly St deli first thing to see how everything’s going and to grab some breakfast. I love how homely it feels in there. Then I’ll head to our Fitzrovia deli on Mortimer Street where I’ll have meetings throughout the day and also help out in the kitchen if I’m needed.

What inspired you to include a studio space in the new deli?

It was my vision to bring to life a concept whereby people can eat healthily, exercise and socialise all in the same space. I like to think we’ve managed that!

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

It’s always been my goal to bust the myth that healthy and delicious food are mutually exclusive. So when I see people enjoying our food and responding so well to the concept of food that is good for them it makes it all worth it!

Do you have any nutrition non-negotiables?

I try to abide by the 80/20 rule as it’s far more realistic than an all or nothing approach. I avoid eating food that contains wheat, dairy or refined sugar. Processed foods are a massive no-no for a healthy diet.

What do you think will be the next big thing in the health food industry?

People are starting to realise that rather than following faddy diets or consuming low-calorie products (which are instead packed full of artificial sweeteners), what really counts is eating a balanced diet and returning to good quality produce cooked from scratch.

Has your view on health changed since becoming a mother?

I’ve always been passionate about having a balanced diet and as many home-cooked meals as I can. While becoming a mother hasn’t changed my views I certainly apply these rules to my son and make sure I’m home each night to cook him tea from scratch.

What is your absolute favourite meal?

I am obsessed with the broad bean mash that we serve at our delis as well as our miso aubergine and kale salad. I can’t get enough of them. Anything Ottolenghi too.

What is your favourite recipe in the cookbook?

I love the banana bread. It is so delicious and is great for both breakfast and as a snack.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

I can’t resist Kit Kats. There is something so satisfying about them.

Do you have any rituals or routines?

I have sensitive skin so only use Pai Skincare on my face. Their products smell beautiful and are the only ones my skin doesn’t react to. I also make sure to have a bath every night before bed.

What is your favourite way to relax?

I play Words With Friends with my brother in New York, my other brother in Plymouth, my dad in Twickenham and my mum who's just in the room next door. We are all hooked!

What do you like to do to keep fit on top of eating well?

I divide most of my time between our kitchen and office in Battersea, our Kingly St deli and Mortimer St deli, so running between the three feels like a lot of exercise! I also enjoy going on walks at the weekend with my husband, son and dog Rudy.

Who inspires you?

My team inspire me every day with their dedication and passion. My husband inspires me with his level-headedness and calm. My mum inspires me with her optimism and kindness. My dad inspires me because he is the king of cooking with love.

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