It’s hard to believe that it’s coming up for 10 years since Fifteenfirst opened it’s doors in London. For those of you not familiar with Fifteen, the restaurant was set up by super (is he still Naked?) chef Jamie Oliver in an attempt to give students from disadvantaged backgrounds a chance at a proper apprenticeship and to guide them forward towards a career in the food industry.
The first fifteen chefs (hence the name) were filmed as part of a successful TV programme and every year since then, the restaurant has opened its doors to more students hoping to make something of themselves.
Flush the Fashion spoke to Angela Morris at the restaurant to find out what life is like inside the famous kitchen.
How many students have passed through the doors of Fifteen since opening?
Close to a 100 in total at Fifteen London. Fifteen takes on 18 young people every year as part of a unique apprentice programme for young people, in need of a break in life. At the time of being recruited they are not in education or employment.
How many people apply for an apprenticeship each year?
It can be up to 300. We try wherever possible to help those that don’t make it on the programme and usually we can suggest suitable alternatives.
Has anyone gone on to open their own restaurant after finishing their training?
Most apprentices are still in the early days of training but we do have one amazing success story. Tim Siadatan is one of Fifteen’s first graduates and was named one of Europe’s top 10 chefs according to Wall Street Times.
His restaurant Trullo has opened to great acclaim in late 2010 and is based in Islington.
Has the restaurant been affected by the recent economic climate?
Most restaurants have been affected in one way or another but it’s a case of tweaking the offer to suit our customers.
We’ve refurbished the restaurant, moved from a tasting menu to a la carte, created a great value set lunch menu and wine offer. As a result we’ve not been impacted in terms of trade through the door but customers are mindful of how much they spend.[nggallery id=21]
Does Jamie still have time to take an active role in the restaurant? Wherever possible but he’s extremely busy. He’s not in the restaurant on a day to day basis but he’s instrumental in both the restaurant and Apprentice Programme.
He has a fantastic eye for details and will always want to have a final sign off where possible, be it a menu, new restaurant feature, website or retail product.
Where do you source your produce and ingredients?
A range of UK and Italian suppliers – UK where possible and Italian for more regional ingredients such as certain cheeses, cured meats, mustard fruits for example.
How easy is it to find good local farmers and produce in London?
It’s about developing partnerships: visiting the farms and suppliers, tasting the ingredients and doing the research to ensure their credible suppliers who deliver premium product.
Our Purchasing Manager is in charge of working with the Executive Head Chef to make sure our food policy reflects the food ethos and sustainable practices of Jamie Oliver i.e. using free range eggs or pork, using diver-caught scallops to name a few.
Where do the profits from Fifteen go?
To the Jamie Oliver Foundation, it is a registered charity (number 1094536), which funds the Fifteen Apprentice Programme. We’ve also created an extensive retail range and all profits go to the charity, see www.fifteenshop.net
Are there any plans to expand Fifteen in any more cities?
Not at this stage as the charity has recently taken on a bigger remit and now includes some of Jamie’s other campaigning activities. So our focus is to work closer with the other activities.
Fifteen (London) is located at 15 Westland Place, London N1 7LP, just under 600m from the Old Street roundabout. For a table call 0044 203 375 1515.
Incidentally if you are feeling hungry today’s specials are…
Ravioli of roasted beetroot and goat’s cheese in a marjoram butter or
Whole baked bream with potato and fennel al forno, watercress and a black olive sauce….