We were excited to interview actress Nicola Millbank, most widely known for her roles in Mount Pleasant, Mr. Selfridge and Silent Witness. Nicola Millbank, known affectionately as Milly, moved to London aged 18 to follow her dream to become an actress. On arrival in the big smoke, Milly suddenly realised it was up to her to learn to fend for herself, and that included improving her cooking skills. With a love for home-cooked dishes, Milly set about putting her own spin on traditional dishes, but with a fresher, lighter and more exciting appeal. Fast forward ten years, and her full-blown love affair with home cooking is now being captured for all to read, in her brilliant food blog, Milly Cookbook.
What made you decide to write a cook book, have you always had a love for food?
I created my website Milly Cookbook during an acting drought. I needed something else to channel my energy and creativity into and cooking has always been a hobby of mine so it was a natural progression. I never tried or wanted to become a blogger, I needed something more than taking photos of other people’s work – I had this need to create it. Six months later I was approached by Lisa Milton at Harper Collins and before I knew it, I was doing a book! It was never on the cards, at least not so quickly. I’m still kicking myself that I’m now a published author and feel very lucky indeed.
How do you find the time to juggle both your acting and cooking careers? Are they both equal passions of yours?
In recent months I’ve been stretching myself thin but I love every second of it. I’ve been lucky that my filming schedule on Mount Pleasant was such that it allowed time for me to work on the book and when I wrapped I went into full-on writing and producing mode. I’m not one to sit idle, I thrive on busy times and get more done when juggling everything all at once. In an ideal world the two careers will continue to co-exist quite happily alongside each other; I’m currently working on my first screenplay.
Talk us through a typical day in the life of Milly.
On a typical day I will wake up and walk my minute Dachshund up to the village and buy a coffee and a newspaper. I’ll spend the morning catching up on emails or interviews and pop out for lunch, either to meet my manager, PR or business partner. Most afternoons I’ll spend testing and writing recipes before my fiancé Mike comes home. Unless I’m at a dinner with friends or at event we’ll spend the night in cooking together and watching a boxset over a glass of wine, while cuddling the dog.
What are your three career highlights so far?
Acting alongside Michael Fassbender in Hex. It was my first job, nearly 13 years ago and I just knew in that moment he’d be hugely successful.
Signing my contract in the News Building was a pretty surreal moment, I never thought becoming an author would be something I’d ever get the chance to do; it was a pinch-me moment.
Shooting the book in Stockholm with my photographer Susanna Blavarg. I moved into an apartment for two weeks and completely immersed myself in the whole experience. Having complete creative control on my own book was the best thing that could have happened, I cooked and styled every picture alongside my food stylist and photographer – I was in my element.
Share with us your favourite recipe perfect for a family this summer.
Mike’s Paella – it feeds the masses and is absolutely delicious. Teamed with fresh bread, a crisp green salad and lots of lemon wedges it’s a total crowd pleaser.
What’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
There’s no feeling ‘guilty’ in the Milly household, I’m a huge believer in not associating food with guilt, if you want something, then enjoy it. On those days when I crave something gooey or deep-fried it’s without a doubt voodoo chicken wings and sticky ribs.
Tell us all about the word Swedish word ‘langom’, which means not too much and not too little, but just the right amount – how does this apply to your recipes?
For me, it’s all about everything in moderation, so this well known phrase in Sweden really resonated with me. My grandfather Walter always says ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’ and I couldn’t agree more, it’s how I live my life and what I put on the front cover of my book. I’ve dedicated the book to him.
How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?
Messy haired, diligent and bold, goes by two names but has one purpose – to be outrageous.