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Meet the Team

Find out about the team who keep our London cooking school running on a daily basis. 

Anna Ratcliffe - Director

The opportunity to share her love of good food tempted Anna back to London from the French Alps to launch Cactus Kitchens in 2013. After four years as an Executive Assistant at Cactus TV, where she is still remembered for her eating skills during Saturday Kitchen rehearsals, Anna joined VIP Ski for two winter seasons in search of high altitude adventure. Now, with her feet planted firmly on the ground, Anna finds nearly every day brings an adrenaline rush as she leads Cactus Kitchens to new heights in the world of cooking. Anna loves Zumba, surfing and visiting the Lake District and she thinks life is too short to cook the same recipe twice.

Millie Simpson - Chief Home Economist and Tutor

Millie arrived at Cactus TV as an ambitious 18-year old. After learning the ropes on Richard & Judy and Saturday Kitchen Live, she became a TV freelancer. Always a keen cook, work on food-focused productions including the Roux Scholarship and travelling the country in a kitchen on wheels for Ten Mile Menu, persuaded Millie to become a full-time foodie. Hired as a kitchen porter at the launch of Cactus Kitchens, Millie was soon Chief Home Economist. Ever curious about food, she particularly loves working with and learning from her Roux chef colleagues. She also enjoys ice-cream, playing the drums, movies and photography.

Hannah Birch - Corporate Events Manager

Passionate about food and wine, Hannah has made it her life’s work to be at the centre of events. After managing successful food pop-ups at music and sporting festivals, Hannah joined Majestic Wine where she earned her Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 3, qualification. But missing the buzz of masterminding dynamic social experiences, Hannah jumped at the chance to join Cactus Kitchens in 2015. She is now in her element devising original events and working with companies such as Samsung, Disney and Brooklyn Brewery to name a few.

James Sleightholme - Head of Foodism and Finance

James joined Cactus Kitchens in August 2016, following completion of the Leiths School of Food and Wine one year diploma. After being an accountant for 20 years, working at Pearson, ITV and WPP, he decided it was time to take a year “off” to immerse himself in classical cooking techniques and to broaden his culinary repertoire. As Head of Foodism and Finance at Cactus Kitchens,  he’s delighted to be combining his old and new lives. Away from the office James enjoys balancing his cheque book and cooking.

Rosie Jones - Maître D' & Marketing Assistant

After graduating from Leiths in 2015, Rosie worked at the Duck & Waffle and local pubs before joining Cactus Kitchens as a junior home economist. Wine buff Rosie soon realised that her talents lay outside the kitchen. Accomplished at sniffing out a good bottle of wine (she has recently passed WSET level 3 with flying colours) you’ll find Rosie front of house pouring and explaining the day’s wines to our guests or designing our weekly Rouxletter. She’s no slouch either at cocktail mixology and hula hoop tricks. The one may explain the other.

Kate Reece - Head of Happiness

A background in high-end customer service positions, an interest in food, especially cheese and red wine, and a love of making people happy made Kate the ideal candidate for Head of Happiness. When our customers are happy, Kate’s happy. Art History graduate and culture lover Kate’s favourite pastimes are visiting London’s newest restaurants and wine bars and feasting on the treasures in the city’s galleries and museums (her favourite is the V&A where she was once employed).

Harriet Worthington - Home Economist & Social Media Manager

It took a degree in American History & Politics to convince Harriet that she preferred cooking to Christopher Columbus. After training at Leiths, Harriet joined Cactus Kitchens as a home economist. With her finger on the foodie pulse, she has now added social media and blogging to her role. When the team can spare her, she likes to spend time in the Roux restaurant kitchens furthering her culinary knowledge. She also enjoys experimental baking, Ina Garten and her adopted country, Yorkshire.

Gemma Stoddart - Home Economist

After trying her hand at various jobs, Gemma decided to turn her passion for cooking into a career. Besides working at Cactus Kitchens, Gemma is also a home economist for Saturday Kitchen Live, food stylist and recipe writer. She enjoys swimming, feeding people and dancing in living rooms. 

Laura Curry - Home Economist

Armed with a degree in Popular & World Music, Laura’s introduction to the culinary world was as a music profiler for restaurants, bars and hotels. It was while heading the support team at, that Laura realised she was spending all her free time cooking and thinking about food and it was time to change direction. A graduate of Leiths, Laura joined Cactus Kitchens as a home economist in 2016.

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