Opened in 2006, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall continues to transform lives using the magic of food.
As a social enterprise our profits are used exclusively to help people in greatest need in Cornwall. Bringing together over 700,000 people since we opened nine years ago, every day, every year we help to create meaningful memories and experiences that inspire, connect and reward. We give young people the means to create a new direction for themselves and make some fantastic food whilst we’re at it. But hang on, we know this I hear you say, so what about the beginning and how did it all come about? None of it would have been possible if it weren’t for a few very determined individuals…
Back in 2004, Betty Hale was working in the community regeneration department at Restormel Borough Council. Betty had followed the success of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen London and could see the enormous benefit such a project would have in Cornwall, one of the most deprived areas in the country with the lowest average wage and high youth unemployment.
Armed with a vision to bring Jamie Oliver’s concept to the county she enlisted help from local businessmen Will and Henry Ashworth, owners of the Watergate Bay Hotel. Will and Henry had the perfect venue overlooking the beach and the scene was set to approach the Food Revolution team in London and persuade them that Cornwall, in particular Watergate Bay, would be the ideal location for a second Fifteen restaurant in the UK.
By early 2005, the deal was done and Jamie was fully on board. Like all good stories this one had its fair share of tension and drama: a hectic building schedule to convert the top floor of the Beach Hut into a state of the art 120 cover restaurant and a relentless recruitment drive to appoint directors, managers, chefs and front of house staff for the restaurant, and trustees, and staff for the Cornwall Food Foundation. All within a narrow window ready for the May 2006 launch date.
With the teams in place came the biggest challenge of all, recruiting the first cohort of apprentice chefs. It was no easy task. There were over 300 applications for just 21 places. By January 06, after hundreds of phone calls, interviews, a boot camp and four months at Cornwall College studying NVQ1 in Catering we had our inaugural group of apprentice chefs. Job done.
Just nine months after we got the go-ahead from the Jamie Oliver Foundation, and after so much hard work from everyone involved, we opened our doors to the world on 18th May 2006 with Jamie Oliver leading the celebrations. The world’s media turned up and the apprentices, thrust into the glare of the media spotlight, took it all in their stride.
Nine years on and we’re still going strong. Graduating over 100 apprentices, with 80% of them still cheffing today, we know we have the recipe for success. In 2014 we won a prestigious RegioStars award for Inclusive Growth, recognition by the European Commission for our ongoing work.
We are proud to continually invest in training not just our apprentices but in our staff, employing over 70 people year round. We work closely with Watergate Bay Hotel to push back the traditional seasonal limits of hospitality businesses in Cornwall.
Spending on average over £1M each year in Cornwall’s food economy, buying as much as possible from local producers and suppliers, our artisanal sourcing means we’ve got twice as many suppliers as other kitchens and we enjoy cultivating these relationships and work in partnership with them to showcase Cornish produce, this is evident not just on our menus but also at our bi-annual seasonal food fayres.
We are committed to measuring and improving our social impact, whether it’s the hundreds of school children we engage in healthy eating each year, the lives we’ve changed through our Apprentice Programme, the people we connect through Food Revolution or the communities we’re starting to help through FoodWorks, community engagement programme.
Thank you for your continuing interest, support and love.