NEWS IN DETAIL...
Fifteen Cornwall Graduates its 2012 Apprentice Chefs
The Jamie Oliver-inspired restaurant and social enterprise Fifteen Cornwall is celebrating the graduation of its sixth cohort of apprentice chefs. Thirteen graduated in April 2012 as fully qualified chefs.
This comes after four months of study at Cornwall College, a year’s hands-on experience in the Fifteen Cornwall kitchen, and then further work placements in other professional kitchens around the UK.
Fifteen Cornwall is one of the county’s biggest success stories – with the apprentice chefs at the heart of this social enterprise. Since opening its doors at Watergate Bay, on the north coast six years ago, Fifteen Cornwall has transformed the lives of over 120 young people in Cornwall who were in need of a second chance, becoming chefs of the future. In addition to this, over £12.5 million has been generated for the Cornish economy and nearly 400,000 diners have been served.
Jamie Oliver enthuses: “Our beautiful Cornwall restaurant has continued to impress and delight thousands of customers, and the food and training have been truly inspirational under the watchful eyes of Andy Appleton in the kitchen and Polly Dent in the restaurant.”
Roger Furniss, Chairman of the Cornwall Foundation of Promise comments: ”Our congratulations go to all 13 graduates. Their hard work and commitment has enabled us to give them the opportunity to transform their lives and launch lifetime careers in food. We wish them all the very best for successful futures.”
It is also thanks to the financial support of Cornwall Works that the graduation was able to take place at Truro Cathedral. Fifteen Cornwall receives ESF (European Social Fund) Convergence support, via Jobcentre Plus and the Skills Funding Agency, via ESF Convergence. Cornwall Works, which also receives ESF Convergence investment via Jobcentre Plus, is supporting the graduation. Its aim is to overcome barriers to employment particularly for people with disabilities or health conditions, lone parents, people aged 50 and over, ethnic minorities and people with no or low qualifications.
The aim of the Fifteen Cornwall apprentice programme is to empower the apprentices to transform their own lives and become fully-fledged professional chefs. Not in employment, education or training (NEET) when they start, the project is as much about developing their self-esteem, a positive focus and self-discipline as it is about culinary skills. This new group of graduates sees a record high employment rate following their work experience, with 80% continuing to work in the food industry.
Fifteen Cornwall’s apprentice chefs spend the first few months of their training at Cornwall College, learning all of the basic skills needed to start their careers in the industry, followed by more complex training as they progress through the year. Course Manager Tracy Page comments: “It makes me so proud to see the Fifteen Cornwall chefs graduate each year. To work with them from the very beginning at Cornwall College, seeing them overcome challenges along the way, to the level they are all at now is fantastic. They’ve all done so well and I’ll follow their careers with great interest.”
Prior to joining Fifteen Cornwall, Ben Ambridge, 24 from Newquay, was struggling to provide for his partner and child, moving from job-to-job: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Fifteen Cornwall, I now have direction in my life and a job that I want to get out of bed for. I love working within a team, it gives me a lot of satisfaction and I know that this is what I am going to do for the rest of my life. A few years from now, I hope to be a chef in a respectable kitchen and then one day, have my own restaurant. I want to provide a good life for my girlfriend and son.”
James Cuthill, 24 from Bodmin, had been battling a long-term mental illness before joining the programme. He is now able to keep his illness in check: “The Fifteen apprenticeship was more than I hoped for. It’s made me more positive, confident and I can now do things I didn’t ever think would be possible. It’s tough but extremely rewarding when you put the hard work in. I have had some experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
One apprentice that particularly excelled during the Fifteen Cornwall programme is Emily Hunt, 22 from Marazanvose, who has already secured a job opportunity with River Café. River Café is a big supporter of the Fifteen Cornwall apprentice programme, understandably as Jamie himself earned his whites in their kitchen.
Ruth Rogers, owner and chef at River Café comments: “We're proud to work closely with Fifteen Cornwall, which offers education to young people who want to become chefs. The River Cafe is excited that Emily Hunt, one of their impressive graduates, will be coming to work with us.”
With last year’s cohort flying the nest, a new intake of apprentices have just completed their four month Cornwall College placement and are currently getting their hands dirty in the Fifteen Cornwall kitchen.