Katie Gillmon answers our questions…

After excelling on the Fifteen Cornwall programme, Cohort 5 apprentice Katie Gillmon is currently working at the Duchy Nursery Cafe. Earlier this year, the team won Food Magazine’s prestigious Best Cafe Award so we thought there was no better time to catch up with Katie and see what life holds in store for our apprentices after graduation day.

How did you find the Fifteen Cornwall apprentice programme?

My time at Fifteen Cornwall was an incredible journey where my love of cooking bloomed into the prospect of a good career. Learning as much about myself as I did about food, it was a safe space where there wasn’t judgement or discouragement. A place where I was able to push myself to my furthest reaches and achieve things I never felt possible! Knowing you have the safety net of Fifteen and 21 best friends [apprentices] by your side striving for the same goal, makes you feel as if anything is possible.

Would you recommend the apprentice programme to a friend?

Without a doubt, but I’d also recommend that it is not to be taken lightly either. When you join Fifteen you are deciding to give your life a positive focus, one you will never let go of. The Fifteen programme is to be embraced and trusted, and it will take you anywhere you want to go.

What have you done since you graduated?

After I graduated I worked as a CDP [chef de partie] of pastry at a 3 AA rosette establishment in Golant. Then along with my partner Jordan was offered a joint head chef position at a Restaurant in Looe, run by the prestigious Barclay House. After jumping feet first into our roles, I realised I wasn’t just working I was living my dream. I had surpassed my own expectations of myself and what was possible.
I have moved on again to my current position of Sous Chef at the award winning Duchy of Cornwall Nurseries, where I have a wonderful and fulfilling role, working with an exceptional team.

What do you most enjoy about being a chef?

It would be hard for me to define one reason. I enjoy being creative with food and flavours, creating pieces of art that are not just aesthetically exciting but stimulate all the senses. I feel food is a form where you are able to evoke memories in people, its taste, sight, touch, smell, and sound, a melting pot of love, imagination. It is skill and hard work on a plate.

What would you be doing if you weren’t cheffing?

I would probably still be searching for my ultimate creative outlet, oh and feeding my friends and family with new things I had been experimenting with! I think if I wasn’t a chef I’d be a photographer. Although I can’t imagine not working with food.

Have you always enjoyed cooking?

I come from a family of cooks, being born into a family run bakery. Watching my mum lovingly cook amazing meals, my vegetarian Father who showed me to be imaginative with food, stories of his travels around the world and the cuisine he had tried. So yes cooking is in my blood.

How did you feel on winning the Food Magazine award?

Immensely proud of the team and what we have achieved in such a short time.

What’s so special about Cornish produce?

It’s on your doorstep; being in such a tight knit community makes it easy to source the freshest produce. Being surrounded by sea you have some of the world’s most amazing fishing fleets nearby, catching a variety of species. Not to mention the amazing land and soil we have, creating good grazing for cattle, providing us with world class dairy products. We also have very good meat too as well as cheeses and beautiful organic crops. The list is endless.

Can you see yourself always being a chef?

Yes, it’s taken me this long to find my perfect profession, and Fifteen taught me to hold on to a good thing, so I’m not letting go.

We’d like to say a massive thank you to Katie, and congratulations to her and the team at Duchy Nursery!

If you’d like to know more about the Cafe click here >>

01637 861000 E: reservations@fifteencornwall.co.uk

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