Our Cohort 7 apprentices visit London…

It’s that time of year again and we can’t believe it’s come round so quickly! On the morning of Thursday 21st June, our current group of apprentices plus assorted Fifteen chefs and staff boarded the train from Bodmin Parkway to London Paddington. After bacon buttys all round and a bit of a snooze, we arrived in London and it was time to begin our sourcing visits!

First up was La Credenza, which meant a ride on the tube to Colliers Wood. Once there, we were greeted by Fabio who explained to us the origins of his produce and the ways he ensures they are delivered at their freshest. After enjoying huge amounts of cheese and cured meats (all of which were delicious but the limon cello cheese went down best) we went on a short tour of the produce warehouse and the apprentices helped packed the van which was delivering to Fifteen Cornwall that day. Although we try and source 80% of our produce from Cornwall, occasionally we have to look further afield for specialist Italian items.

Before long it was time to bid Fabio farewell and we set off on the Northern Line to Old Street where we found the Thistle hotel, our home for the night. After a quick change, we were off to Taste of London in Regents Park. Taste of London brings together not just restaurants and food and wine suppliers, but a line-up of innovative and interactive programmes on cooking and eating. Here some of our current apprentices met some of their fellow apprentices from Fifteen London and we all set off to discover what the festival had in store. We weren’t disappointed!

The selection of top restaurants at the event was amazing! Each had a three or four course tasting menu on offer, so we happily wandered around tasting little dishes from each. There was also an array of artisan produce for sale and demonstrations from top chefs. Our very own training and development chef Karl Jones even met with Michele Roux Jnr about placement opportunities! We all thought we’d walked into food heaven.

But, all good things have to come to an end and we left Taste of London at 9:30pm to head back to our hotel. After such a busy day and a very early start, everybody seemed quite happy with an early night!
Next day, our first port of call was Fifteen London, where we enjoyed a tasty breakfast and an inspiring talk by two of the current apprentices. After completing 11 months of their yearlong course already, they had some wise words for our apprentices on commitment and behaviour.

After a tour of the produce store and the offices of Jamie Oliver’s food team, there was just time for a photo opportunity before we hit the tube once more to head to Neal’s Yard Dairy, just outside Borough Market. Once there we were shown several different types of cheese and got to try what must be the best cheeses in London!

The goat’s cheese was a hit, as was the cheddar. We also learnt all about the benefits of animal and vegetarian rennet and discussed the implications on the parmesan industry of the earthquake in Italy. All round it was very educational!

After Neal’s Yard, we had a bit of time to spend in Borough Market. We managed to catch a risotto demo by an ex-London apprentice, and strolled through the market, mainly gathering inspiration.
Our last stop was Jamie Oliver’s Union Jacks restaurant in Holborn. The menu is modern British with a twist, and we all loved the design and interiors, it looks like an old-school diner and from our downstairs private mezzanine area we could watch the chefs cooking our dishes on vintage TV screens.

As we tucked into an array of dishes, it was to all the apprentices’ great surprise that Jamie Oliver arrived to say hi and talk us through the menu! We then enjoyed a lovely long lunch with him as he told us stories about how the restaurant came to be, and the way the menu was created.

It was a truly inspirational afternoon, as the apprentices asked Jamie questions and told him all about our trip.
By the time we came to board the 7pm train to Cornwall that evening, everybody would agree it had been a fantastic trip, but boy were we tired!

Still, there wasn’t much rest for many of our chefs who went straight back into service the following day. Oh, the life of a chef!
We’d like to thank everybody involved with making this trip such a success, including First Great Western, Taste of London, La Credenza, Fifteen London, Neal’s Yard Dairy, Union Jacks and of course, Jamie Oliver!

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