Apprentice Bootcamp by Jane Sarchet

This has to be the highlight of the Fifteen year, the day that young people from across the county are selected to join the next batch of recruits at Fifteen Cornwall.

This year’s bootcamp was rather appropriately held in an aircraft hanger at a windswept RAF St Mawgan where 505 Wessex Squadron put them through their paces. Throughout the day the Fifteen staff were looking for those candidates that showed drive and determination, that worked well in a team situation and had a spark about them. An interest in food was a bonus, but at this stage it is more about finding the group that will work together to push themselves through the year long training process.

After coffee and introductions the group was split into three teams. One group was taken to the ‘low ropes’ where they were given various physical challenges that could only be completed by working as a tight team. Bearing in mind they’d only met 20 minutes earlier there was some initial hesitation but it soon became apparent to them that they couldn’t accomplish a thing without communicating with their team mates and pooling their resources. By the end of the 90 minutes session there was lots of banter and they looked like they’d been hanging out together for years!

A second group was taken to a spot slightly sheltered from the elements and told that in 60 minutes time there was a terrible squall coming in that if they couldn’t shelter from they would all perish. There was a giant military tent available to them and they were given a picture of how it looked when properly erected. What ensued was another lesson in teamwork and a mad dash trying to get this vast tent up within the time frame, in which they happily succeeded and all survived!

The final group was taken into one of the two mess tents set up within the hanger by the 504 Squadron who had come down to Cornwall especially for this event. The would-be chefs had great fun cooking up a range of dishes using only the content of a ten man military ration pack. Now whilst the tins of spam and large vacuum packed sachets of cooked chicken chunks were a far cry from the quality of ingredients they’ll be using if picked to work in the Fifteen kitchen, it was a fun and tasty intro into cooking on a large scale and under rather unusual circumstances.

It was a brilliantly organised day and really allowed the personalities of the applicants to shine through. And now all we can do is wait to find out which of the attendees made the grade and will be our stars of 2016. Good luck to all!

Interested in working for the RAF as a chef? Email or apply online: Or better still, speak to the local armed forces careers office (Redruth or Plymouth) AFCO contact details can be found on the same link.

The potential apprentices have since been selected, and in the new year started at Cornwall College in Camborne.They will now spend the next three months getting up to speed with some basic cookery skills before the final selection is made into the Fifteen Cornwall kitchen in April. Exciting times ahead for our new students!

Cohort 11 at college

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