Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall has celebrated the graduation of its 13th cohort of trainee chefs.
Almost 200 people gathered at the social enterprise restaurant, which is now the only Jamie Oliver restaurant in the country.
Fifteen Cornwall, and its charity the Cornwall Food Foundation, has now recruited more than 200 young people to the kitchen, with 131 trainees completing the programme and changing their lives in the process.
Gennaro Contaldo, Jamie Oliver’s mentor, presented awards on the evening with Jamie Oliver sending a video message for the graduates.
Chief executive of Fifteen and Cornwall Food Foundation, Matthew Thomson, said: “This has been a particular painful few months for us all but when we bring everyone together to celebrate the journey of these young people, it makes it all worth it.
“It’s more important to us now than ever that people understand and remember what we do and support us in our work so we can keep training unemployed young people and working with some of the most disadvantaged communities and individuals to transform their lives through food.”
The wider work of Cornwall Food Foundation was also celebrated with awards handed out to participants on the Food for Change programme, a partnership led by the charity.
Food for Change is a £1.3 million programme part-funded by the European Social Fund to help people progress into employment or education through fun, accessible community-based activities. Winners included Eleri Evans who first heard about Food for Change after taking part in the FoodWorks cooking course at Bosence Farm, a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre.
Natasha Arnold, head of Cornwall Food Foundation, said: “This year’s graduation and awards ceremony was really about celebrating all of the foundation’s work over the last year. From the young people in the kitchen training to be chefs to disadvantaged people in our communities gaining new food skills which ultimately lead to positive and bigger changes in their lives.
“The charity’s mission is to help people transform their lives through food and make lasting change and this event gives us the opportunity to take stock and see how far people have come.”
Fifteen Cornwall this year welcomed its one millionth customer and has just recruited its 14th cohort of trainee chefs into the kitchen. Outside of the restaurant, the Cornwall Food Foundation is extending its community activities across Cornwall. After success in Newquay, Truro, St Austell, Camborne, Redruth and Pool, the Food for Change programme, which helps people to learn new skills and find work through a combination of support and food-based activities, will be launching in Bodmin and Falmouth later this summer.