20 years of the Naked Chef

‘Discovered’ in 1997 at London’s legendary River Café, Jamie Oliver was dubbed ‘the Naked Chef’ in 1999 because of the way he stripped cooking back to its bare essentials.

He was all about showing everyone how anyone could cook great food at home and have fun doing it – and it was great TV.  Three years later he opened his own restaurant Fifteen near today’s Silicon Roundabout in London, putting his passion and beliefs on the line on live TV: could he get literally anyone to cook amazing food in a fine dining setting? … and change their lives doing it?

The answer was a resounding Yes – Fifteen succeeded beyond his wildest dreams and over the next three years he partnered with local entrepreneurs to create Fifteens in Amsterdam, Melbourne and Cornwall all faithful to the original concept – take a bunch of unlikely, unemployed and usually disadvantaged young people and train, challenge and support them to become highly skilled chefs able to work in any kitchen in the world.

Jamie Oliver in the Fifteen Cornwall Restaurant
Jamie Oliver in the Fifteen Cornwall Restaurant

Why Cornwall? Like millions of visitors, Jamie’s lifelong love of Cornwall started with childhood family holidays. He’s always had a special connection here and discovered only recently that his beloved Nan’s great great grandparents actually came from Penzance – moving to London in the mid 19th century – so his famous Essex character has proper Cornish roots!

Fifteen Cornwall’s long airy waterside restaurant, simply styled to let guests focus on the food, is uncannily reminiscent of the River Café where Jamie started out – he switched the Thames for the Atlantic and was immediately at home inspiring local young people to cook for their lives. The River Café continues to inspire us and several Fifteen Cornwall grads have since gone onto work back in the ‘mothership’.

Our 14th group of trainee chefs are now in our kitchen and we are scouting for our 15th cohort.  Although now, after Jamie’s first 20 years, we are the only Fifteen left in the world we’ve got a feeling we won’t be the last.  It’s never been more urgent to attract new talent into the industry – Britain needs chefs!  The Fifteen concept is a proven success and we are proud to have trained over 200 young people in the Fifteen Cornwall kitchen while delighting (almost!) all of the million guests we’ve so far welcomed to our breathtaking beach restaurant.

Keep following our story as we follow Cohort 14 on their journey to the graduation next year and check out the trainee section of our blog to see previous graduates.

Fifteen Cornwall cohort 3 graduation day
Jamie Oliver in the Fifteen Cornwall Restaurant
Jamie Oliver in the Fifteen Cornwall Restaurant


JAMIE OLIVER'S FIFTEEN CORNWALL, ON THE BEACH, WATERGATE BAY, TR8 4AA
01637 861000 E: [email protected]

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ALL PROFITS FROM FIFTEEN CORNWALL GO TO THE CORNWALL FOOD FOUNDATION
Registered charity number 1119341

Fifteen Cornwall Limited • Registered in England • Company No: 05653435 • Registered Office: On the Beach, Watergate Bay, TR8 4AA