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Life in the present tense Social Report 2007

Cooking in a busy demanding professional kitchen is very much a life lived in the present tense. No time to think, instant action required, move on to the next order, the next course, the next shift, the next menu. It’s all about now. Fifteen offers young people with troubled pasts the chance to inhabit that ‘now’. Over time that ‘now’ gets bigger and there’s a chance that the troubles of the past recede or cease to matter so much and a different future is possible.


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

Short and sweet Fifteen is a social enterprise restaurant open seven days a week founded by Jamie Oliver in 2002 and owned by Fifteen Foundation, a registered charity Jamie is a trustee of the foundation and the restaurant is run a by a team of professional chefs, front of house staff and trainers Fifteen welcomes over 100,000 guests a year, and in 2007 will turn over £4,000,000 and contribute over £250,000 to the foundation Fifteen runs an apprenticeship for young people in need of a second chance in life It costs £20,000 to recruit, train, support and graduate one apprentice Three quarters of Fifteen graduates are still chefs Nearly nine out of ten young people who have come to Fifteen regard their time with us as a positive experience Fifteen has been successfully replicated in Amsterdam, Cornwall and Melbourne. In 2008 we want to double to 45 the number of young people recruited to the apprenticeship in London And raise the numbers graduating and holding down a job to 70% In our own training kitchen working towards our own recognised vocational qualification


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

Contents A message from Jamie 4 A message from Liam 5 What’s this report about? 6 Fifteen : a product with a purpose 8 The heat of the kitchen 12 Six graduate stories 20 106 young people have started with Fifteen... 34 Other voices 44 And now what? 46 Many thanks... 48 Auditor’s Assurance Statement 48


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

A message from Jamie I can’t believe it’s five years since we opened Fifteen at Westland Place. I certainly had no idea that Fifteen would become such a well known global brand. I love that Fifteen is a real business, providing not only the place where young people get brilliant training, but also much of the cash to pay for that training. Fifteen truly is a social enterprise. We haven’t always got it right. But without taking risks we won’t make progress. I am really proud of all the young people who have graduated and are now living different and better lives because of their time with us.


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

I remain every bit as passionate as I was in 2002. I want to see Fifteen get better, stronger, more profitable and cleverer about what we offer young people in need of a second chance. Five years is just the start. There is so much we can do with and for young people. Please join us and help us move forward to our tenth birthday! Jamie Oliver Founder and trustee of Fifteen Foundation

A message from Liam At Fifteen we just don’t offer young people the chance to change their lives a bit around the edges. We offer the opportunity for them to transform radically their place in the world. The chance to change identity: how they see themselves and how the world perceives and reacts to them. During 2007 – our fifth birthday year - we have been taking a long hard look at what we do. We have spoken to many of the young people who have been through Fifteen since 2002 and have asked them what they are doing now, what their opinions and feelings are about the content and quality of the Fifteen apprenticeship and what their ideas are for making it better. This report is not a typical annual report or pr document. It is a warts and all look into the guts of Fifteen, celebrating what’s great about this place but acknowledging too when and how we have missed the mark.


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

So that you can be assured that the figures and claims made in this report have been checked out by an experienced and respected social auditor who is independent of Fifteen we retained Adrian Henriques of justassurance to carry out an audit. Adrian’s Auditor’s Assurance Statement can be found on page 48. This report has been sponsored by Barclays, a longtime ally of ours. Their support and cash have enabled us to do this properly. I hope you are informed and inspired by what you read in these pages. Liam Black Director

auditors’ assurance sttatement justassurance is a social enterprise dedicated to working with stakeholders to provide assurance of social and sustainability reports. The cost to provide assurance for the Fifteen Social Report was £3,600. justassurance has sought to act impartially with respect to Fifteen’s various stakeholders. Statements of independence, impartiality and conflict of interest, together with the competencies of the auditors, are detailed at The directors of Fifteen are responsible for the content of the Fifteen Social Report. justassurance has used the AA1000 Assurance Standard . This requires us to review the completeness, materiality and responsiveness of the report. To meet AA1000 we: • Interviewed members of Fifteen staff • Discussed the report, accounts and our statement with Fifteen • Identified claims in the Report • Reviewed the consistency between the Report claims and the underlying records on a sample basis OPINION On the basis of the work we have done, we believe this report adequately reflects the social impact of the apprenticeship programme at Fifteen. Our review against the AA1000 Assurance Standard is set out below. COMPLETENESS This report covers the first five years of the operation of Fifteen London and describes its plans for the future. It very largely focuses on the apprentices, which is the right stakeholder priority for a first report. However future reports will need to give a fuller picture of Fifteen’s stakeholder impacts, progressively including customers, staff and the environment amongst others. Since social reporting has been included


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

in the franchise arrangements for all Fifteen restaurants, the performance of other Fifteen operations should be reported in future years. MATERIALITY The report directly addresses the major issues affecting apprentices past and present. This includes particularly the high rate of nongraduation and the role of the media and of Jamie Oliver in the development of the restaurant. The report also addresses the tension in recruitment between social eligibility for inclusion in the programme and the suitability for professional work of the applicants. This issue goes to the heart of the role in society of Fifteen as a social enterprise. In future years it will be important to ensure that the views of the current apprentices can be seen to determine which issues are considered material to them. RESPONSIVENESS It is good to see that the report pays proper attention to those who did not graduate as well as to those who did. And it is encouraging that non-graduates still regard their time at Fifteen in a positive light. Nevertheless Fifteen is addressing the issue of the level of non-graduation through the introduction of a more structured programme, in line with the recommendations of Gerard Lemos. The next report will establish the approach for a number of years. It will therefore be important to establish a system of targets for expected performance against key stakeholder issues based on robust data collection systems. signature Adrian Henriques, Auditor, justassurance; October 2007

What’s this report about? “Fifteen was the changing point in my life. I felt lost. In the kitchen I feel my purpose. What Fifteen has done for me, most importantly, is given me a piece of myself back that somehow had been lost. It has put me on a path”. Fifteen graduate 2007 We have a large and diverse range of stakeholders spanning restaurant customers, suppliers, staff, colleges, media, funders, franchise partners and many more. For this our first social report we have chosen to focus on our core stakeholder group, the young people we recruit for training as chefs in Fifteen London. Specifically, the report focuses primarily on the first four cohorts (2002 – 2006). The fifth cohort – which graduated in October 2007 – and the sixth – October 2008 – have been involved in the process but most time and energy has been invested in finding and speaking to those who have moved on. This report focuses on the work of Fifteen in London but our goal for future reports is to include the experiences of our partners in Amsterdam, Cornwall and Melbourne and their young people. We would like also to widen our reporting from social impact to include wider sustainability factors. But again this is for future reports. To ensure the objectivity and credibility of the social report process we invited social researcher Gerard Lemos in to Fifteen to investigate and draw his own conclusions about the value of what we do with and for young people. His insights can be found on page 12.


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Alongside Gerard’s work, we interviewed as many of those young people as we could track down – both graduates and those who did not complete the programme. The data gathered has been the subject of many and sometimes heated discussions involving frontline kitchen staff and trainers, managers, leaders and trustees. The results are some significant changes to the structure and content of the apprenticeship aimed at improving all aspects of our work with young people. The main changes we will be implementing in 2008 are laid out on page 46. Whilst we have been producing this report, the national debate about how best to support young people in our inner cities has become increasingly agonised and prominent. The alienation of many of young people, the gang culture, the shootings and stabbings, the fear of the hoodie – the media is full of it every day. The gap is wide between mainstream society and the many thousands of young people in London who left school with nothing, are not working, and are risk of violence and crime. The work we are doing at Fifteen offers youngsters a sense of purpose and confidence, a trade and different social networks which open up a whole new set of opportunities for them. We believe that our kind of supported, hands on learning in a real business environment is one important answer to the problems besetting too many of the capital’s youth.

Fifteen: a product with a purpose Fifteen restaurant opened to the public in November 2002. Inspired by Jamie Oliver, the story of Fifteen’s creation was filmed and broadcast on television as Jamie’s Kitchen. The show has been aired in many countries around the world. Named after the first cohort of fifteen young people, the restaurant is a commercial business, wholly owned by Fifteen Foundation, which has at its heart a chef apprenticeship for 16 to 24 year olds.

Jamie has moved from hands on operational involvement to a more strategic role as a board member of the foundation In 2007, the restaurant, which employs around 90 people, will turnover just over £4,000,000 and all profits made are donated to the foundation to help fund the recruitment and training of the young people. A new cohort has been recruited every year and, after graduation, the young chefs are helped to find employment in the restaurant industry in London and elsewhere. Fifteen is more than a restaurant. It is a social enterprise, offering a product with a purpose. The product is a high end dining experience


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

in a restaurant where the best of produce is prepared by great chefs and apprentices served by knowledgeable, professional and relaxed people. The purpose is the empowerment of young people who need a second chance to establish their place in the world. Without the social purpose Fifteen is just a fancy restaurant like many others in London. Without the product, we are just a youth centre unconnected from the market and the real demands of the restaurant business. Inspired by the success of London, Fifteen has been replicated through franchising in Amsterdam (in 2004), Cornwall and Melbourne (both in 2006). Fifteen is ambitious. We would like to open in more communities where there is a market for our style of restaurant and a need amongst young people for our kind of hands on learning culture.

Jamie’s role Jamie’s involvement has changed a lot since he opened the business. As Fifteen has become stronger, he has moved from hands on operational involvement to a more strategic role as a board member of the foundation. With the other trustees, he ensures that the resources and right people are in place to secure the long term viability of Fifteen whilst leaving the day to day running of the kitchens, front of house management and training to


Fifteen: Life in the present tense


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

a team of professionals. Jamie remains the inspiration behind Fifteen’s food and he further supports Fifteen by taking part in key events – such as restaurant openings and graduations – and puts his amazing energy and popularity behind the PR and fundraising strategies of the foundation. Jamie does not own any of the Fifteens and he has no financial stake in any aspect of the restaurants.

The apprenticeship At the heart of the training Fifteen offers young people is the belief that the best way to learn is to get stuck in and learn by doing. The Fifteen apprenticeship combines formal learning, visits to amazing food and wine producers around Britain and Italy, work experience in some of the best restaurants in London, as well as working shifts at Fifteen alongside our brigade of professional full time chefs under the leadership of Executive Head Chef Andrew Parkinson.

Fifteen is more than a restaurant. It is a social enterprise, offering a product with a purpose To be eligible applicants must be aged 16 to 24, and not in full time employment, education or training. They must be able to get to and from the restaurant on public transport from where they live. In line with the charitable purposes of Fifteen Foundation, many of our recruits have other issues in their lives which create barriers to their entry into training or the jobs market. Fifteen has established links with youth organisations all over London and with prisons and young offender institutions. Applicants referred by these agencies are guaranteed a face to face interview. Young people can also apply direct to the restaurant or online. The selection process is a mix of interviews, assessments, group exercises and taste tests.


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

Those who graduate from Fifteen will have achieved NVQ Level 2 and have a year’s worth of experience working shifts at Fifteen as well as work placements in some of the capital’s best known restaurants to put on their CV’s. The aim is to give them as good a start in the industry as we are able, inspiring in them a passion for and knowledge of great produce and an understanding of the hard work and dedication it takes to become a great chef.

At the heart of Fifteen is the belief that the best way to learn is to get stuck in and learn by doing When graduates leave Fifteen they are far from the finished article but they have the tools and knowledge to be able to move on and up in a competitive industry hungry for talented, passionate, hard working young chefs. Alongside the cooking and kitchen training, the foundation offers a range of social and welfare support to help the apprentices deal with the many issues which can get in the way of their learning. Help is on hand to deal with the housing, debt, relationship, drug and alcohol issues which many of our young people have to deal with. As well as instruction in the kitchen, Fifteen’s purpose is to enable the young people to come to really believe in themselves and to know that whatever has gone on in their pasts can be left behind and they can create very different, more positive, futures for themselves. The apprenticeship is funded by profits from the restaurant and other trading activity, money raised from events organised by the foundation and the in-kind and cash support of a range of partners. For example, Barclays – the sponsor of this report - has been with us from the very start. As well as providing generous amounts of revenue and capital funding, they have provided mentors to staff, and financial advice and bank accounts to apprentices.

The heat of the kitchen What is Fifteen’s apprenticeship doing for young people? Gerard Lemos is a social researcher. Over the last year he has been talking to current and past apprentices, joining them in discussions, on their visits to suppliers and working in the kitchen with them.

Everybody knows the story: the kid from the broken home, Mum and Dad split up. Dad wasn’t there much, or at all. Doesn’t do well at school, always in trouble. Things get worse at secondary school; hates Maths, English and Science; often absent, sometimes excluded. Courses at college don’t last long. Before long bad company and trouble with the police, maybe drugs and drink too. Then crime and a spell in a young offenders’ institution. By now there’s a baby on the way and the whole cycle starts again. One response is ‘you need to talk about it’. With counselling and therapy you might ‘move on’ and perhaps eventually ‘heal,’ but it’s a long shot. The second option is more practical: ‘deal with your problems; get help to quit the drugs and the booze; get some training and get a job and a flat’. This approach doesn’t have a great track record either. The focus is on the problems, not the person. Young people shunt from hostel to hostel; from one


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

college course to another. And anyway, maybe there’s more to life than a grotty council flat and working in a bowling alley. All these approaches miss the point. Young people like this need to see themselves differently, to become someone different. They need to see themselves as people who have skills, status and aspirations. They need, in other words, a brand new identity. I’ve been observing Fifteen to see if its particular approach has gone beyond training young people to be chefs. Has Fifteen given young people a new sense of themselves; a new place in the world? Young people who train at Fifteen have faced a familiar, depressing litany of problems: inadequate parenting, often from only one parent; family conflict and breakdown; poor school experiences and low educational achievement; low skills and employability; offending and imprisonment at a young age; homelessness and living in grotty hostels; misuse of drugs and alcohol; teenage parenthood; chaotic behaviour and a lack of self-control. They may have had similar experiences, but those experiences have not had the same effects on them. Because we are all different, the past is no guide to the present, let alone the future. The true similarities amongst the young people are not their past problems, but their ambitions for the future: they all say they want to be chefs. They don’t want to be chefs to solve their past or present problems, but because

chefs – now more than ever – have status, can become rich and sometimes even famous. Fifteen apprentices have higher aspirations than being decorators or working in a supermarket. Without aspirations lives are not transformed; they are just managed. You have to believe you can be different. Life as a chef has other attractions. Chefs do not need extensive book learning or writing skills. They do not have to spend too much time sitting in meetings and working at computers. Instead, being a chef involves creativity, immediacy, structure and quality. Let’s take each in turn.


Some key findings

a successful social enterprise, • As Fifteen is offering something very special for young people: a trade which Jamie has made cool, a new sense of purpose, identity and positive social networks

the right young people the • For immediacy, structure, discipline and creativity of being a chef is an ideal career path away from trouble and poverty

Creativity. The creativity of being a chef is not spontaneous. A top chef will devise new recipes, combines ingredients in new ways and create synergies of flavours and taste sensations. Being a genuinely creative chef means, of course, having a passion for food, but you also need the willingness to test and try things, sometimes patiently and repeatedly, before devising the right dish worthy of serving with pride in your restaurant. Conceiving, planning, testing, re-testing and deciding are all parts of the creative process. They are also immensely useful qualities in living a fruitful and satisfying life.

role with the young • Jamie’s people is complex and significant needs to get better at who • Fifteen and how it recruits so it selects

Immediacy. To an outsider like me, immediacy the most striking aspect of being a chef. Cooking in busy demanding professional kitchen is very much a life lived in the present tense. Customers are waiting in the restaurant,

social and welfare support • The must become more systematic

Fifteen: Life in the present tense

young people who are both socially eligible and suitable for the demands of a busy, real time, professional kitchen

and structured

having chosen their food. Their sense of anticipation is rapidly growing. Chefs only have a few minutes to meet those desires. There is little margin for error, no time to argue, slack or waste and no second chances. If the chef fouls up, his (and it is usually a his) reputation is in the bin along with the empty bottles and the vegetable peelings. Negative customer feedback is instant; positive feedback is rare. For some the pressure of that immediacy would be impossible. No time to think, instant action required and move on to the next order, the next course, the next shift, the next menu. It’s all about now.

of structure in their early lives. The ability to plan, do and then review is best inculcated before the age of three. If those abilities have not been acquired by the age of 12 or 13, like learning a new language, learning becomes significantly harder. Difficulties at school and lack of self-control and unpredictable behaviour in young adults often has its roots in these early childhood experiences of parents, children and sometimes whole communities living lives without structure. One of the areas of a child’s life in which structure is most important is food. A diet of junk food consumed whenever and wherever is not a structure.

Fifteen offers young people with troubled pasts the chance to inhabit that ‘now’. For at least that shift the past is forgotten. As their training develops over time that ‘now’ gets bigger and there’s a chance that the troubles of the past recede or cease to matter so much and a different future is possible.

So one way of seeing training to be a chef is as a second chance to learn the benefits of structure. As with creativity and immediacy, completing precise tasks co-operatively according to a plan and within a hierarchy are skills that will stand anyone in good stead in any working environment, and in many social environments too.

Training to be a chef is a second chance to learn the benefits of structure and discipline Success in this environment requires discipline and teamwork. Discipline and teamwork, as with creativity, have not necessarily been much evident in the lives of these young people hitherto. Acquiring those qualities also gives you self-reliance, resilience and resourcefulness in many other situations. Structure. Every good meal has a structure. There has to be balance, contrast and harmony in taste and visual appeal. Achieving that within the constraints of immediacy requires, above all, structure. Everyone needs to know who is doing what and who is going to do what next. Everyone needs to know what food goes with what. The ingredients need to be sorted and prepared properly. Everyone needs to know who is in charge; who’s calling the shots; who’s taking the final decisions. The psychological literature shows clearly that the development of small children into young adults is seriously impaired by a lack


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

Quality. Competition at the top end of London’s restaurant world is ferocious. The prices are high and the customers knowledgeable and discerning, even worldweary. The product, as well as the whole experience, needs to be first class. With Fifteen’s open kitchen the customer is literally in the same room. Those sceptical faces are an omnipresent challenge, silently saying, “I’ve been to hundreds of good restaurants. Go on, impress me”. The response must be quality of food and quality of experience. If you ignore that at Fifteen, you won’t last long. The chef that meets that challenge can hold his head up high and deserves respect. Achieving the customer’s expectations of quality must also make you feel that you are the sort of person whose whole life can be quality and deserve respect.

Being a chef is special; any job won’t do These particular qualities required to be a good chef, unlike being good at any old job, and the training you receive to become a good chef has a special relevance and resonance for Fifteen apprentices whose lives have not been full of creativity, immediacy, structure

Barnaby Benbow Age 21 Fifteen Apprentice London, October 22 2007 1.45pm


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

and quality. Gaining those qualities, as well as gaining a profession, a status and the potential to earn a good living are the special reasons why training to be a chef is a particularly suitable choice for young people who have had negative and destructive early experiences.

Being a business The Fifteen Foundation is a charity, but Fifteen is a commercial restaurant in a highly competitive market. Too many training schemes for unemployed young people ignore the pressures – and the benefits – of the market. If you can survive in a commercial environment, not just as a charity, you can compete with the best. You are not hiding from reality in a sheltered harbour of low standards, problem amplification, victim status (in staff as well as clients), low productivity, endless financial crises and generous tax breaks. The market can feel like a chilly and demanding place, but the benefits in real customer satisfaction, genuine value creation and pride in those achievements greatly outweigh the downsides. Fifteen – the foundation and the restaurant – is a social business, not just a charity; not just a restaurant. The solutions to some of our more intractable social problems may emerge more effectively in markets than in top down, impersonal, dependency-inducing Government programmes or in bleeding heart voluntary organisations. Government and the voluntary sector may simply reinforce some existing patterns of disadvantage and inequality, however good their intentions.

The heat of the moment; the heat of the kitchen I have set out some of the good things about Fifteen. And the rest? Working in a kitchen means working cooperatively with other to tight deadlines to achieve high quality outcomes. Without teamwork chaos would ensue. But kitchens, as well as being places of co-operation and team working, can also be angry places, full of tension, high emotion, dislikes, even hatreds. People who work together in kitchens can go from being bosom buddies to being sworn


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

enemies between lunch and dinner. The purpose of Fifteen’s training programme is to prepare young people for life as a chef, not to train chefs for a lovely restaurant somewhere in Utopia. So the training must prepare young people to deal with these dynamics of restaurant life.

These tensions are managed (though rarely resolved) partly through humour, often of a strikingly politically incorrect kind These tensions are managed (though rarely resolved) partly through humour, often of a strikingly politically incorrect kind. Without a sense of humour as sharp as a kitchen knife, survival is off the menu. Tough-mindedness is also required; shake off insults and move on. Sticks and stones…A willingness to accept authority and hierarchy is essential - as is the capacity not to lose it completely. If you cannot cool the heat of the moment you won’t survive the heat of the kitchen. These qualities can be learnt, but in the main they are personality traits. We can all learn to behave differently from our core personality when it is in our interest, but doing the right thing comes easier if it goes with the grain.

Jamie woz ‘ere Fifteen is not any restaurant. As the graffiti on the wall at Fifteen Amsterdam says, it’s the restaurant started by Jamie Oliver in the full glare of television and millions of viewers. That special history contributes good and bad to life at Fifteen. The upside is that Fifteen is an aspirational and well-known brand that attracts apprentices and particularly attracts many of their parents – especially their mothers. Families may, for many of the apprentices, have been part of the problem, but families will also be part of the solution. Whatever the past, a life without a family is not a solution; it’s a waiting game. One of the apprentices told me: “I got into cooking while I used to smoke a lot

Barnaby Benbow Age 21 Fifteen Apprentice London, October 22 2007 2.15pm


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

of weed. I got the munchies so I made myself stuff. I was making shit stuff and my Mum watched Jamie Oliver and said I would be good at that. I shrugged it off. She entered me in without me knowing.” When asked what he thinks he means to the apprentices, Jamie told me dismissively, “I’m just a fucking celebrity off the telly.” But being a celebrity does make a massive difference Even though he is not in the restaurant every day, some apprentices see Jamie as a role model: a successful, wealthy chef with a celebrity profile and lifestyle, happily married with a nice family and lots of interesting things to do, apparently having an easy time of it. “When Jamie Oliver comes in everything changes”, says one of the early graduates I spoke to, “ you can see how much he loves food. It’s not just that he wants a name for himself. When he passes that down you feel great.”

Boys will be boys – but not all boys like Jamie Being a chef is not traditionally a macho choice of profession. So you might wonder why so many Fifteen apprentices, and chefs generally, are men, and not exactly effeminate men. “I was in prison. I talked to my Mum and said I fancied being a chef. Everyone was shocked. I said I really want to cook – be a chef. My aunt wrote me a letter on poofy pink flowery paper….”

What’s required is having the personality, the passion and the potential to be a great chef So another thing that young men, often with an angry and violent past, learn from training to be a chef at Fifteen is how to be a different kind of man. They learn a kind of masculinity that is not ‘poofy’, but is viable economically and socially and keeps you out of trouble. As well as being a role model, Jamie is also a


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counterpoint. He is what you might want to be, but also what not to be. That process of sizing up your own personality and aspirations against someone else’s, aspiring to similarities and aspiring to differences, is a powerful learning and maturing experience. It is the process of becoming an individual; becoming an adult; gaining an adult identity. Comparing yourself to Jamie is a way of deciding who you are and who you might become.

Not everyone who is eligible is also suitable So, Fifteen also has some special factors: the business discipline and the impact of Jamie Oliver. But the big question is does Fifteen’s training and support do the job? Many apprentices succeed as chefs. Others succeed in other ways. Many fall by the wayside, mostly because of unauthorised absences. Lucien, one of the training chefs, told me “The key to graduating is turning up.” Others decide being a chef is not for them even though they graduated. Fifteen needs to reduce the number that fall by the wayside. This may not be because the training is not right for them. It may be because they were not right for the programme in the first place. Because personal qualities matter, not all those who are eligible, are also suitable. Not every good cook who cares passionately about food is going to make it as a chef. So whilst many young people, because of their negative experiences of education, family life, offending, drugs and alcohol and so on, may be eligible for Fifteen’s training programme, not all will be suitable. Those who are suitable and will therefore succeed will be: • Passionate, knowledgeable and creative about and with food • Have visual flair and style in the presentation of food • Be committed to high standards and a quality experience for customers • Have great physical stamina • Tough-minded and resilient under emotional challenge and pressure • Able to deal with aggression and anger • Able to co-operate with others

• Well-organised and methodical under immediate deadlines • Have a sharp, self-deprecating but combative sense of humour All these qualities can be assessed in recruitment, though no system is infallible. Being a basket case is not a qualification to join Fifteen. What’s required is having the personality, the passion and the potential to be a great chef. These qualities will occur in many young people with or without difficult pasts. But young people who are unemployed or vulnerable may need more support.

Is Fifteen getting training and support right? The structured approach to chef’s training with a clearly mapped out programme, defined and measured milestones and marks being regularly awarded reminds apprentices exactly where they are up to, what they have achieved, what they still have to do. An element of competition between apprentices also encourages them to stretch themselves and that’s no bad thing. Support is offered in a different way to training. There are structures, including regular group discussions, inputs from a range of external people, one to one sessions with support workers and a tool for measuring


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‘distance travelled’. But support at Fifteen and elsewhere is a person-centred activity. Support is defined through needs assessment. There is no curriculum. Progress on support goals is not measured or marked. The young people ask for support when they need it with the things they themselves identify: family conflicts, drugs or alcohol, anger management or whatever. But support could and should be a structured programme with a plan, milestones and regular reviews. And there should be a curriculum or content. Of course, the content must be flexed to individual situations and needs, but there is a ‘grid’ of competence and resilience that the support input should achieve. This should reflect, not just what Fifteen trainees need, but what everyone needs and wants. I suggest that this support curriculum should cover four areas.: * Personal security – including money, housing, and managing drugs and alcohol. * Relationships and children * Family and friends * Careers The purpose is not just that the young people should become chefs, but that they should grow as people as well as professionals. They should certainly have a decent income and a good job with good career prospects. We should also want them to have stable relationships, to nurture their children (perhaps better than their own parents managed), and to give and receive the loving support of family and friends (the best insurance against all distress). And the thing that holds all that together is that the apprentices don’t just become chefs. At Fifteen they can go from being what they have been to becoming who they want to be – in every sense.

Six graduate stories Fifteen apprentices share many similarities. But they are all individuals and no journey through Fifteen and beyond is the same for any young person. Here are the stories of six of them.


Fifteen: Life in the present tense


Fifteen: Life in the present tense


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

Ben Chapman Graduate 2004

I’m a million miles from where I thought I’d be By his mid teens Ben was a very successful drug dealer and car thief. With the tens of thousands of pounds his criminality brought him, he bought the best of everything (“new trainers every week”). But it cost him his family who did not want anything to do with the violent selfish criminal their son had become. He was jailed at 18 for vehicle offences. Stuck in a cell with no family contact he decided he wanted to do something more positive with his life. He despised the man he saw himself becoming. Out of prison, he looked around for a start as a chef. It was his aunt who applied to Fifteen on his behalf. “I found out on the day of my granddad’s funeral that I had an interview. There’s something out there for me was what I was thinking. You can be someone special.” His larger than life personality made him a popular presence at Fifteen. But old habits die hard. One night during the college part of his apprenticeship, Ben stole a car to get home. He was stopped by the police and sent back to jail. He stayed in touch with Fifteen and was let back on the course. “I couldn’t believe that they still believed in me. It’s like family. I learned a lot of discipline and how to keep my mouth shut. They taught me


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

about all the anger I had in me. They put a light on inside me that I’d never had before”. Ben did his work placement at Le Gavroche under Michel Roux. “He was great. He said to me ‘This is better than washing your socks and pants inside’. He even came to see me graduate. That meant such a lot to me.” In 2004 he graduated with distinction but the happy ending everyone hoped for didn’t happen. His parents split up which devastated him. A job in a start up restaurant did not work out. The baby his girl friend was carrying died and was still born. “That was the thing that hurt me most in the world”. He ended up doing piece work on building sites – “slogging my guts out every day”. Despite his habit of “putting meself in traps”, he stayed in touch with Fifteen and jumped at the chance of a work trial. He got through his probationary period and is now working as a demi chef de partie at Fifteen London. “I love it working with the new trainees. I see me self there. I love sharing my passion and potential with them. I’m a million miles from where I thought I’d be.”

Nunzio Citro Graduate 2004

my heart wasn’t in being a chef Smoking too much weed with his mates, Nunzio’s life after school was a bit of a dead end. His mother submitted an application to Fifteen without his knowledge. He turned up for the interviews and was offered a place.

for a year and a half. Each day he walked past an art gallery and would stop to admire the artists working there. He began to envy the freedom they seemed to have which he didn’t working long hours in the same kitchen.

“Fifteen taught me what a hard days’ work is. There was always something new happening in the kitchen and I found myself more disciplined and I enjoyed the team work”.

“Fifteen had given me direction, but my heart wasn’t in being a chef and I realised I’d have to get out while I was still able to”.

College wasn’t so good for him. “At Fifteen you’re working in a quality environment, serving real customers. Going to college wasn’t the same. It was like driving a top sports car and then being asked to ride in an old banger!”. Nunzio began to outgrow the Fifteen experience. He grew frustrated by the constant issues with other apprentices and staff. The rumours, moaning and conflicts in and around the kitchen. “I couldn’t see myself in the restaurant – I felt restrained”. Nunzio did graduate in 2004, and went to work at Cicconi’s in central London where he stayed


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

He now works on his painting and photography full time. “I’ve got much less money than when I was cooking but I’m much happier. I’m enjoying life like never before.” The first exhibition of his photography and painting ‘minimalisetomaximise’ was organised with the support of staff of Fifteen Foundation in October 2007 and was a great success. He sold eleven pieces. Check out Nunzio’s work at


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

Take as much from it as you possibly can


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

Kerry-Anne Dunlop Graduate 2003

After Jamie, Kerry-Anne is probably the best known personality of the group involved in the opening of Fifteen in 2002. As an 18 year old, she featured prominently in the TV show Jamie’s Kitchen and is still sometimes recognised in the street. Five years on, as a mother of two looking to get back into work, her feelings about her involvement with Fifteen are complex and mixed. In the round, she is clear that Fifteen has been good for her : “it was so exciting seeing that restaurant being done. It was just any empty shell. And then opening night when all our families came. Drinking champagne watching ourselves on the telly, on the first episode. It was all still waiting to be discovered.” She is grateful for the love and support which many at Fifteen – especially Jamie – gave her during what was a very difficult time for her. “Like when I was on my work experience in Suffolk I hated it. I phoned my mum crying. It was so far away from home. I didn’t like the people I was working with. Jamie heard about this and he phones me at eleven o’clock and we talked until one o’clock in the morning. I wasn’t expecting it. He’s Jamie Oliver, a celebrity. For him to take that time out to sit and talk to me on the phone during his home time – that made me really think that he really does care.” Kerry-Anne grew up on the tough Kingsmead estate in Hackney. She was a troubled teenager who dropped out of school. “Then I was feeling a bit lost, not sure what I was really going to do”. Encouraged by her careers adviser, she applied for the very first Fifteen course. She found herself in the middle of a messy start up restaurant with lots of macho chef egos in a pressurised kitchen jostling for Jamie’s attention whilst a TV crew hungry to find and highlight jeopardy, drama and pungent characters recorded every minute of it. “I got bit of a big head for a while. I was chosen out of thousands of people, but wasn’t expecting the big upheaval. Getting up early, working from morning until night. Then the journey home and all you want to do is sleep. And when you do sleep and you wake up it’s time for work again. And you don’t have no life. It was so hard to get up in the morning knowing I’ve got to go all the way to Hammersmith and I lived in Hackney. “ She regrets that the image she believes the


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

show gave of her – a larger than life but lazy and ungrateful young woman who failed to make it – might be forever out there and fixed in the public mind. In those early days, it was a bit wild west in the kitchen. Lines of accountability were, to say the least, unclear. Not every one was as passionate as Jamie about the young people trying to find their feet in the kitchen. Chefs jostled for attention and top dog status. “Everyone wanted to be the boss” , Kerry-Anne remembers, “too many chiefs, not enough Indians. Because Jamie wasn’t in the kitchen all the time he never saw it. And when he was there everyone was different. After a while it wasn’t fun any more. “ “ It was really weird watching myself on the telly. Knowing that many people were sat down watching their televisions every week to watch us progress that felt really nice. Most people don’t realise that I did graduate because people always say to me ‘well, why did you give it up then? Why did you leave?’ and I say I didn’t leave I graduated. I don’t like that people think that I wasted it and some people have said some spiteful things. “ They exaggerated things like college. It looked like I was never there but if you add it all up I only missed about two and half weeks. It was days here and there but the way it looked on TV was I was never there. That was a bit shitty.” She left Fifteen in March 2003, having just about scraped through to graduation with a low pass. She refused the opportunity to stay on and get her grades up. “I was sick of it by then. I didn’t use it to the best of my advantage and see it through to the end. I regret that more than anything.” She drifted through several short term chef jobs but it never quite worked out. Jamie asked her to help out with his schools dinners campaign which she did for a while before falling pregnant with her second child. The pregnancy was difficult and the doctors advised her to give up work. Since his birth she has been a full time mum. Having blazed the way for young people at Fifteen, her advice for young people joining the apprenticeship? “Take as much from it as you possibly can. Work as many hours as you can. Read as many books as you can. Ask as many questions as you can. You can’t ever go wrong by asking questions, or working hard or being enthusiastic. Enjoy it. That’s the most important thing” And now? Her kids are everything to her but she wants to get back to work and says she’s love to get back into a kitchen – ideally at Fifteen. I would love to have a locker here with my name on it.”

Dwayne Joseph Graduate 2006

It was a real shock going into the industry Before coming to Fifteen, Dwayne had had a lot of dead end jobs. When he applied to come on the Fifteen apprenticeship he did so not because he wanted to be a chef specifically but because he wanted a career. It could have been anything. When he applied to Fifteen he was waiting for an answer which never came from an engineering firm. “I didn’t enjoy Fifteen at all at first,” he says. “I didn’t like college. It was on the sourcing trips when I knew this is what I wanted to do. Chef’s Week (when the apprentices take over the running of the kitchen) was when I realised I could actually do it. That really helped my confidence.” Dwayne is very clear in his mind that having Fifteen on your cv is a double edged sword. He knows that he got his first job – a large hotel kitchen – because he had been at Fifteen. But the chefs there didn’t like Fifteen. “I hate Fifteen and Jamie”, the head chef told him and he experienced resentment from the


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

older members of the brigade. “They didn’t like it that they’d started as pot washers and we come in up here”, Dwayne shrugs. “But where I am now, the head chef likes Jamie and Fifteen and it’s not a problem with the younger chefs.” Dwayne has some straight advice for Fifteen. “It’s sugar coated at Fifteen. It was a real shock going into the industry. The work load’s terrible and they don’t care about you. If you don’t do it, you’re out. You should teach the apprentices how to deal with anger and disapproval. “College was good for the fundamentals and instilling discipline but I’ve had two jobs now and I haven’t had to show a certificate yet. It’s all about ‘can you cook?’, ‘can you run the section?’, ‘can you follow orders?’.” What changes would he make at recruitment? “You’ve got to get rid of them who only want to spend time with Jamie. Tell the applicants that they’ll never see Jamie. And if they do, that’s a bonus”.


Fifteen: Life in the present tense


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

Lloyd Hayes Graduate 2005

It’s not just about me anymore, is it? Lloyd, 24, is a chef de partie at the award winning Acorn House restaurant in Kings Cross. He left school at sixteen having drifted through, bullied, turning up for the odd lesson. “I bummed around for most of my teens.” He started offending, getting into fights, and picked up numerous suspension orders, fines and weekends at attendance centres. He started selling cannabis and by 20 was making £800 a week profit. “I had four mopeds and spent my days answering the mobile and riding round to drop the weed”. He had a couple of jobs as pot wash and prep chef in cafes in Brixton and London Bridge. “All I could do was cook and sell weed”.

He decided that he should go to college where he believed there would be a ready market for his cannabis. Around this time – 2003 - his auntie got him the application forms for Fifteen. He got through to the final residential selection weekend in Wales. “I didn’t make the cut. I was seen as a bit of a trouble maker.” He was put on the waiting list and offered a place at college. At college he surprised himself by really knuckling down. He feels a great debt to Denise, one of the tutors at Hammersmith College. “She saw I could cook and made me work double hard. I was smashing it. I didn’t even sell weed at college.” Someone dropped out of the Fifteen apprenticeship and Lloyd was offered the place. He sold his mobile phone for £500 and decided to draw a line under the dealing and crime. “You make money but what do you do with it? Phone ringing all the time. It’s going nowhere. Fifteen is too much work for not enough money so you’ve got to have the passion for cooking”. Lloyd discovered he had a huge passion for making pasta. He styled himself the Pasta Masta. Mentored by chef Mario Magli and


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

Fifteen graduate Aaron Craze, he progressed quickly. He had to completely cut himself off from his old networks. “The only friends I had were the people at work. People on the estate would ask me if I’d left. I hadn’t but all I did was work and sleep so they never saw me. I couldn’t have anything to do with any of them. It was just me, my girlfriend, my job, my dog”. Lloyd graduated in July 2005. He was taken on at Fifteen and was a natural role model and mentor for the new apprentices. “I love teaching, passing on my knowledge. But not it all. You’ve got to keep some back!” Helped by Fifteen, Lloyd spent a season in Val d’Isere cooking for a chalet. “Going to France was the best thing I’ve ever done. I realised how good I am at cooking. Thinking up starters, desserts, getting it all out.” When he got back to London in March 2007 he was offered a job at Acorn House, whose founder Arthur Potts Dawson had been executive head chef at Fifteen during Lloyd’s apprenticeship. “I’ve been running a section. Running pasta. Experimenting. Growing stuff in the roof garden. I’ve learned about recycling. We only throw away half a bin bag a day”. Longer term, Big Lloydie wants to be a trainer. “I want to teach. I don’t want to be a hard core head chef. I want to see my son grow, to be there when he walks and starts talking. Not to hear about it from my girlfriend. “I’ve got so much love and time for the people I met at Fifteen. I learnt how to get along with people that I don’t get along with. That’s something you have to do to get along in life. It’s not just about me anymore, is it?”

Joanne McDonald Graduate 2006

What I learned at Fifteen really helped me Jo, 22, is a chef de partie at Deutsche Bank’s 19th Floor Kitchen in Bishopsgate in the City. This is her second job since leaving Fifteen in July 2006. Her first job was in a private members club in Mayfair. After the sudden death of her mother Jo spent much of her childhood in care. She always fancied cooking and after leaving the care system her social worker urged her to apply to Fifteen. After she got over her amazement at being taken on, she put her head down and worked hard. “What I learned at Fifteen really helped me. I know so much about produce and how to do things in the kitchen. I see the way things are done sometimes and think we wouldn’t do that at Fifteen. They buy in their pastry cases and ice cream – and I think I could make that stuff for them!” She has not encountered any bullying or animosity. “When I came for a trial, one chef said he’s seen me on the news when they did a bit on the graduation last year. He said that he liked Fifteen and Jamie.”


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

She is very matter of fact about her time as an apprentice. “Fifteen does treat you a bit like a kid, can’t do this , can’t do that. I understand that drink has to be controlled on sourcing rips. But we was adults and they could have been a bit easier on us towards the end.” She didn’t need the support services on offer but from what she could see those who needed support had it offered to them, but if people didn’t want it or didn’t use it then that was their choice. “Fifteen gave me the skills to have a career doing what I wanted to do. I’m so glad I done it. I remember how hard it was getting home at one o’clock in the morning and then having to get up early and go. My hours are easier now but still when I find it hard to get out of bed, I think come on you did it at Fifteen”


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

106 young people have started with Fifteen since March 2002. 54 of them (53%) completed and graduated the 18 month Fifteen apprenticeship.At October 2007, 40 of these graduates (75%) were still chefing or working in another part of the food industry, six had gone into another line of work including journalism, art and sales two were in full time study; four were unemployed , and two we have lost touch with. Of those still cooking, six out of ten are earning up to 20K, a quarter are earning between 20K and 30K and 7% more than that (two of whom are now full time mums)


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

The evidence is there that Fifteen, for those willing and able to see the course through, offers a unique transition opportunity to a good career with prospects and decent pay. For this report we interviewed 51 young people who had been on the Fifteen apprenticeship in the first four cohorts (20022006). This represents a sample of 48% of the total who have started the course. Three quarters were male, six out of ten were white and just under a third are of black or mixed parentage. Four out of ten had served a custodial sentence before Fifteen. Most – just under 70% - were graduates. Part of the apprenticeship is college based learning towards National Vocational Qualifications Levels 1 and 2. The last two cohorts of apprentices have studied at Lewisham College. In 2005/06, 100% achieved Level 1 and 90% Level 2. In 2006/07, Level 1 was 92% and Level 2 100%. These figures compare favourably with the average levels of attainment for the college as a whole. Over 90% regard their time with Fifteen as a positive, indeed life changing, experience with significant beneficial impacts in their work and personal lives. Just over 70% obtained at least one qualification. Of those interviewed who did not graduate, 65% left voluntarily when they realised it wasn’t for them and the rest were fired mainly for not turning up regularly enough! Neither gender nor age seems to be an indicator of success or otherwise. In other words 17 year olds are no more or less likely to graduate as older apprentices are. For young people, if they can stick with it and get through the course, Fifteen works. It is not an exaggeration to claim that Fifteen has saved lives as well helping young people see themselves and their futures differently. A graduate from the first group now planning


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

to start his own business: “I wouldn’t have changed anything. I loved every moment, I got everything out of it that I possibly could”. Graduating 18 months later, another, now working as a chef in New York says: “I found something that I was good at. It totally set me up for life really”. One of the class of 2006, this chef, a former drug dealer, is still amazed at what has happened to him: “When I look at what I have now compared to what I had a year ago I can’t believe it” . And this woman, who graduated in 2005, now a much loved member of the Fifteen London chef brigade says the changes she has undergone go very deep: “Fifteen changed me inside as a person. Before I wasn’t open to society, now I’ve met a lot of people who have influenced my life. I’ve totally changed.”. A 2004 graduate, now working as a food stylist, also thinks positively about the course: “It was definitely life changing, but it wasn’t easy, it was really hard. I very much feel the support came from my peers. I have never been part of a team that was so strong and supported me so much”. It is clear from the responses we received and from our lived experience on a day to day basis that Fifteen is all about relationships. The relationships between the young people and food and learning. Relationships between the apprentices themselves. Between them and the restaurant staff. Between them and the training and support team. Between all staff and apprentices and Jamie Oliver, the flesh and blood young man they sometimes meet and the A List celebrity brand. Some of these relationships are turbulent and very intense. For those young people willing and able to develop those relationships a very strong network can be created which helps take them forward to a different future. For some it can be too much or they are too immature – regardless of age – to learn new ways of relating to a very diverse range of people. The changes required though to get to graduation and beyond are tough and often

require a realignment of social networks. “I found out who my real friends were,” says one graduate with a history of gang related violence behind him. “I found out who to keep close to me and who to distance from myself to keep myself out of trouble”. For every friend delighted that their mate has made it to Fifteen there are others who resent it. A graduate from the second cohort told us: “I gave up all my friends when I got on this course. People still hate me now for it”. And this from a 2006 success: “I stopped hanging around with the wrong kind of people. I have goals now. My true friends stuck with me.” But for a significant number of young people Fifteen did not work out for them. Some last a few weeks, good intentions crumbling in the face of the first challenge. For others full time study is too much and they bail before they even get to experience working in the restaurant. And some make it almost to the end and then self destruct. Cheap plentiful alcohol is too often involved. One of the fifth intake – father of two, ex offender and handy little chef - lasted 16 months only to get the boot one week before going to his work placement work at one of London’s best restaurants having achieved a 72% score. We don’t understand yet what drives this kind of self destructive behaviour. Not graduating does not mean the end of cooking for some our young people. There are former apprentices who did not graduate who are now working as chefs. One who was dismissed for non-attendance and lateness was asked to leave Fifteen two months before graduation. He had had a turbulent relationship with Fifteen and didn’t like the disciplines. After his initial anger with us subsidised he was helped with his job search by the training team and is now in the kitchens at Caprice Holdings. One young woman from the 2005 class also did not graduate but, after some time spent travelling, has worked as a chef in the Channel Islands and is now back in London cooking. Every one of the hundreds of young people who have sat down in front of us to be interviewed says they want to be a chef. But the truth about their motivations is often more complex. Some are there because they feel


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

compelled to by their mum (never father), probation officer or social worker. Some are sick and tired of the drugs, jail and sheer tedium of poverty and want to do something else and chefing might be that, who knows. Others think they want to be chefs but have no idea what bloody hard work it is. Some think they will be hanging out with Jamie and be on the telly. And, some really want to be chefs and have what it takes to make it.

For a significant number of young people Fifteen did not work out for them. Everyone we have let into Fifteen over the last five years has been eligible – unemployed, the right age, in need of a chance - but too many have not been suitable – that is, have not had the right kind of attitudes and personality types to be chefs. For some it was just the wrong time: “Looking back I really didn’t realise the opportunity I had. I could have had a better life if I’d stuck with it”. A young woman, now an unemployed single parent, in the fourth cohort who left the course after several months understood her motivation was wrong : “I was roped in, caught up in the media hype. I was in love with that but in the end I realized that I couldn’t go through with it”. There is a strong note of wistfulness and regret in some of the feedback we got: “Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I would have stayed away from illegal activity and put myself 100% on the course”. This young man fired in the third cycle of the third cohort in 2004, had a natural talent for cooking and strong leadership potential. He just could not resist the lure of his old mates and the easy cash available from selling drugs. Another young guy, who left the second cohort, filled in his questionnaire sitting in a prison cell: “If I was on the course now, I would grab it with both hands and put my all into it as it’s a lifetime thing and I would probably not be here now”. One young woman who scrapped through in 2006, when asked what she might have done differently said she should have “turned up more, shut up more, complained


Fifteen: Life in the present tense


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

less”. Another graduate from the third cohort, when asked the same question, thought for a while and answered “I would have dumped my boyfriend of the time!”. Each one must take responsibility for his or her actions. Fifteen doesn’t make people steal or kick off with their hostel manager . And getting out of bed and into work on time are actions which cannot be subcontracted. But the truth is that the start up of Fifteen was messy and the boat left port without all its sails and supplies ready. One of the original group, still a chef and contemplating opening his own place, put it like this : “There was no system in place, too focussed on the TV show and that allowed for slackness”. Nevertheless: “I wouldn’t have changed anything, I loved every moment (and) I got everything out of it that I could”. Inevitably, when the restaurant opened the focus was on trying to keep the food and service quality high to satisfy the huge and unexpected customer demand provoked by Jamie’s Kitchen. There was no plan as to how the charity (then called Cheeky Chops) which had responsibility for funding the apprenticeship and recruiting and looking after the youth, would relate to the restaurant business. Who would do what? How would the kitchen staff and the support staff work together in the best interests of the young people? None of this happened. It was assumed that everyone, inspired by Jamie’s example, would just get it and the training would work. So, for the first three cohorts, the reality was that the training and support was too often hit and miss. The handful of paid staff employed to provide the support outside the kitchen were under resourced and inexperienced. This inevitably meant that some of the young people received at best a basic level of support. “The support and counselling they said we would get, when I needed it they didn’t provide it”, recalls a young man who started but did not complete with the second group. A graduate from that group puts it so : “Chefs weren’t trained to be trainers, the foundation team lacked personnel and there were no social


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

service skills”. And another: “There were promises that weren’t kept and sometimes no structure”. The foundation has simply to take this kind of feedback on the chin and accept that we did let some of those young people down at the time of start up and for some time after that.

The truth is that the start up of Fifteen was messy and the boat left port without all its sails and supplies ready At the beginning, there were two competing cultures – fatal to the enduring success of any social enterprise – the restaurant and the charity. Truth is, both parts need each other. Without a successful and profitable restaurant, there is no place and little money to train young people. Without the young people and the support they get, Fifteen is just a restaurant like the thousands of others in London. Since 2005, there has been a major investment in the infrastructure of Fifteen, across both the restaurant and the training and support functions. From board level to restaurant front of house we have improved dramatically and know there will always be more to do. The drop in the percentage of starters actually graduating in the last two cohorts can be attributed to the increased rigour and demands of the apprenticeship. Or, to put it another way, as we have got better at delivering the training and providing the right levels of discipline and support, the flaws in the original model have been exposed and this is why a major overhaul of the apprenticeship is required. Over the last couple of years, the board has been seriously beefed up and a unified leadership structure ensures that there is a good chance that the restaurant business and young peoples’ needs get equal and professional attention and management. We have tried to bring the two cultures

together, to create one team, some of whom cook, some wait tables, count money, train young people, offer welfare support. Everyone works for Fifteen not “the restaurant” or “the charity”. Given the pressures of the kitchen and demands and high expectations of the 101,586 guests we served in 2006 alone, there is always the risk that the business vs. charity split reopens and the young people suffer.

Being a talented and ambitious chef doesn’t mean you’ll be any good at teaching We need to do a lot more work in training and incentivising the brigade of professional chefs to pass on their skills and knowledge. Being a talented and ambitious chef doesn’t mean you’ll be any good at teaching a young person how to cook and be a professional chef. Just as the young people all have a mixed motivations so too do the chefs. Some come with a genuine desire to support and mentor young people into the industry. But some just say they do at interview in order to get Fifteen on their cv. The demands on our Executive Head Chef Andrew Parkinson are intense. He runs kitchens which are working seven days a week, breakfast, lunch and dinner under intense media scrutiny which must make room for unskilled youth every year. He has perhaps the toughest job of any chef in a London restaurant. He must keep those kitchens staffed and may not always have the shortlist of chefs he would desire as keen to train and mentor as they are to cook at one of London’s best known restaurants.

Is size important? The issue of the size of the group (around 20 start each March) which is recruited to Fifteen was raised by a number of respondents. This guy who didn’t make it with the fourth group believes the size of the group didn’t help him: “There are too many people in one group and not enough staff to manage them all. You end up feeling left out. There’s too much divided attention.”. The one group, once a year


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model we use does put a lot of stress on at recruitment time and probably puts pressure on recruiters to allow in people who may not be wholly suitable in order fill the spaces. Our current model allows young people only one shot a year to get in to Fifteen. And it doesn’t allow any flexibility for an apprentice to drop out for a while and rejoin when circumstances are more propitious or for the training team to top up the group when people leave voluntarily or are fired.

Leaving Fifteen There is a deal of truth in the caricature of the restaurant kitchen as a harsh environment, where bullying, shouting, and macho posturing are prevalent. Some graduates talk of the contrast between the warmth and support they feel in the Fifteen kitchen and the shock they get when they go into “the industry”. Indeed several have commented on the fact that being a Fifteen graduate attracts a certain type of resentment and bullying. Says one 2006 graduate: “It might help you get a job at first, but when you’re in, you get shit. Chefs hate the fact that they are 3-4 years in and it’s taken me two years to get to a 5 star restaurant. You get more shit if you don’t know something they say ‘didn’t Jamie teach you about that’. I get hassle every day”. Truth is he would probably have got hassle anyway wherever he’d come from, but the Fifteen label does give bullying chefs something to pick on. Views on Jamie are divided in the industry and sometimes this works to our graduates advantage and sometime it doesn’t. But whatever we might think about that culture, it is what it is, and our graduates are going out into it. A training kitchen for young people from the backgrounds we recruit from needs to have a high level of support – especially in the early months – but how can we also have the right level of discipline and real-ness to ensure the apprentices get that not all chefs they meet in their career will be as interested in their welfare as Fifteen’s are? If we threw them straight into the harsh environment of an unsupported kitchen we would lose most of them in the first week. So, getting the balance right between training


Fifteen: Life in the present tense


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

them and ‘social working’ them will always be a challenge for us. There is a contradiction lying at the heart of the Fifteen offer which is not lost on the young people. Jamie set up Fifteen to give young people who otherwise would struggle to get the chance we offer to get into the industry. The danger though is that graduating Fifteen means carrying forward the label of being a “disadvantaged young person”. One graduate of Fifteen, hates it that he will forever be known in the press as the “former drug addict and dealer “. One told us he never tells anyone he’s a Fifteen graduate because of the stereotypes he fears will be rekindled in the minds of people he works with.

Our current model allows young people only one shot a year to get in to Fifteen This issue of stereotyping is a challenge for Fifteen. The foundation exists to offer young people from troubled backgrounds the chance to reinvent themselves, refresh their personal ‘brands’ and create different futures and possibilities for themselves. But to attract the money we need to run the apprenticeship in a crowded and fiercely competitive fundraising market of charitable trusts, corporate sponsorship funds and individual donors we inevitably must emphasise how “disadvantaged” they are. The media and funding bodies love the “rags to riches” stories, the hard cases who change their lives. The unintended consequence of this can be that Fifteen apprentices all get labelled as drug dealers and car thieves when there is actually a wider diversity amongst them. Do we contribute to the stigmatisation of these young people in our pursuit of the cash we need to offer them the chance they want to change? Some of our young people think so. In talking to these fifty or so young people, feelings are mixed about the quality of support Fifteen has offered graduates and those who


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leave before graduation. Although 35% of those who did not graduate felt they were “very supported” after they went, the majority felt that Fifteen could have done more or that they were not supported at all. Understandably, those who left under a cloud have some strong feelings about this: “It was brilliant while I was there. I wish they would’ve contacted me more when I left. I got a bit angry.” Contact between Fifteen and graduates is more regular. But, in the words of a graduate from the first group : “post training, there was no involvement, no help, no check ups, the support really isn’t there”. With more funds now available to us, we have this year created a full time post to energise the graduate community, help them with job leads and organise events and online opportunities to network and support one another.

So, a conclusion One graduate who responded anonymously to the review said about his (or her) time at Fifteen : “I had a passion that stopped me from committing crime, something to live for, you’re getting paid to learn”. This neatly sums up what Jamie had in mind when he founded Fifteen. A restaurant generating the money to support the training of young people who need a second chance, giving then something worthwhile to do in an industry which is well suited for young people from fractured backgrounds who can respond to the structure, immediacy, and hard work of being a chef. This review has shown that the core proposition of Fifteen – supported training in a real kitchen whilst being exposed to the best of produce and the restaurant industry – offers a brilliant opportunity for young people who are ready for it. By changing the interview and selection process, we will get better at identifying which young people can best benefit from this amazing chance, increase the numbers of apprentices coming through and make sure that we deliver on the promises we make to them in a structure that meets their needs – and those of a busy restaurant.



other voices Fifteen is a great concept. The sourcing trips are something I am particularly envious of. To take young city people to see where their food comes from is truly inspirational and gets them thinking about the provenance of the commodities they use. Fifteen sometimes falls short of getting the right people on the programme. While I understand and support the concept of taking disadvantaged young people on the programme, a more thorough selection process would ensure that those started have a love of food and real desire to be a chef. The general principle of disadvantaged youngsters being placed on the programme should be maintained. But this should not be the only criteria applied. By getting the right people the reputation of the graduates and therefore Fifteen will continue to grow within the hospitality industry.” Kevin Cleaver runs Lewisham College’s Hospitality and Catering School

What makes Fifteen different from other restaurants, are the young people it supports. When Fifteen is discussed with external parties, the order of conversation usually begins with talk of the young people and the lives changed by the Fifteen project, closely followed by the fabulous food and finally money and business. Internally however this order is reversed, with the priorities being money, food, then the needs of the young people. This internal reversal of priority may well be necessary in order to generate revenue to run the project, but this has an effect on status and participation. Fifteen needs to identify where it currently sits on the scale between – ‘adults have total control’ at the bottom, and ‘Young people make all the decisions’, being at the top. The midway point on this scale is; ‘Young people become partners in decision making’. Work has already begun in this area, and a graduate of Fifteen currently sits on the Fifteen Foundation board. More work needs to be done to include apprentices in day to day management decisions, as their definition of need and priority and solutions, are often different than those put forward by the ‘grown ups’.

Tony Elvin worked at Fifteen managing the apprenticeship from 2002 – 2007


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

Fifteen is in my blood. Every day I welcome young apprentices into the kitchen and get to pass on my 20 years experience. I love watching them tackle a whole saddle of lamb and start to break it down into a firmly rolled loin, a whole pork shoulder boned and prepped for pot roasting. It’s great to see them learning the skills of making pasta and gnocchi. It really rocks my melons to see them come through the interviewing stages, then the kitchen doors, getting stuck in and leading up to the big one: chefs week when me and the youngsters, run the kitchen for one whole week. I give the chef brigade the week off and watch as the apprentices, who a few months earlier knew nothing, knock out a full a la carte lunch, full tasting menu in the evening for paying customers who have come to Fifteen expecting a great dining experience. It’s bloody hard work and stressful but they have never let me down. Then they graduate, up on that stage with more confidence and a future ahead of them that they deserve. It’s not all rosey and we can do better. We’ve been guilty of making promises inside and outside of the kitchen which we’ve not kept. I’m always gutted when an apprentice doesn’t complete the course. Such a waste. Where I think we could improve, is to get better at recruitment. We should only take on young ones who really understand what becoming a chef is like and only graduate those who we think are employable and have demonstrated a strong work ethic. After five years, we’ve only just started. I am excited by the plans we have to improve what we do. I know we can get better.

Andrew Parkinson is the Executive Head Chef of Fifteen

Watching them develop is incredible. Fifteen gives them the realisation that they are important to someone, when they don’t turn up for a shift it effects the kitchen. They are really needed which is a feeling that these kids haven’t had before and it takes them a while to get used to it. Describing Fifteen as a family isn’t bull, you watch these guys sitting in the same room with people they would never have thought they would be friends with. They become fiercely loyal to each other but also become each other’s disciplinarians and don’t tolerate crappy excuses for not turning up. There are so many ways of seeing how they progress, from one apprentice calling from work placement to say that she ran a section during lunch service in Claridges to another who was so proud of himself for not getting in a fight with the train conductor because he remembered his anger management techniques! They all grow in confidence and almost in stature when they put on their whites. They become snobby about food to the point that they can tell quality ingredients from a mile off. They learn to manage their lifestyles, from cutting down on the amount of spliff they smoke to not hanging out with their old mates who are robbing cars. I wish we had more money. I wish the social workers and housing organisations we have to deal with cared as much as we do about them as individuals. We need a more structured support programme and we are constantly developing better policies. But ultimately Fifteen develops talented and employable young chefs in an industry with plenty of jobs that can take you all over the world. They make me so proud and I love getting teary at each graduation!

Claire O’Neill is Fifteen Youth Support Worker


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

and now what? The future of the Fifteen Apprenticeship

So, we will in 2008

The findings of this report have been extensively discussed and argued over by staff, apprentices and trustees! Proposals for change have been debated by frontline staff and at board meetings. The result is that we have decided to make some pretty radical changes to the structure and content of the apprenticeship at the same time as changing who and how we recruit.

• reduce the length of the apprenticeship from 18 to 12 months

The one group for 18 months model has served us fairly well since Jamie started Fifteen five years ago. But changing needs and circumstances – as well as the clear feedback of the young people who have passed through Fifteen – mean it’s time to make some big changes to ensure we are graduating more young chefs equipped and ambitious to make great careers for themelves in the restuarant business.


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

• we will increase to 45 the number of young people recruited in one year • recruit them in three cohorts of fifteen in the space of twelve months commencing in June 2008 • introduce a shorter but more intense interview and selection process • create our own training kitchen on the first floor at Westland Place (above the restaurant) in which we will ourselves do the basic skills currently done at college • we will seek to get the Fifteen Apprenticeship formally accredited and overseen by a board of leading industry figures • introduce a counselling and support curriculum around the four themes of personal security (money, housing, drugs etc); careers, family and friends and relationships


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

many thanks...

auditor’s assurance statement

Publishing this report has been a major effort and would not have a happened without the hard work and creative energy of many people.

justassurance is a social enterprise dedicated to working with stakeholders to provide assurance of social and sustainability reports. The cost to provide assurance for the Fifteen Social Report was £3,600.

Thanks to all the young people who took part in interviews and shared their feeling and opinions with us. Thank you Barclays (and particularly Rachael Barber) who understood right from the beginning the importance of Fifteen assessing its impacts. Big up to Jade, Matt and Fabrice at The Plant who remained calm and creative as this process developed! Some great Art Direction and Design. All the photography was done by the amazing Chris Terry. Thank you Bill Eyres, Franco Bonadio, Steve Angel, Sophie Braithwaite, Claire Postans and Anna Jones who provided fresh eyes to read and feed back as the draft developed. A massive thank you to Sharon Wright for staying on the trail of our former apprentices. And, finally, this wouldn’t have happened without Vanya Barwell who managed the whole project - interviewing people, arranging photography, putting up with Liam, keeping everyone on track, calming nerves, encouraging the young people to take part, supporting everyone to get this report over the line on time and on budget. Great job V.

justassurance has sought to act impartially with respect to Fifteen’s various stakeholders. Statements of independence, impartiality and conflict of interest, together with the competencies of the auditors, are detailed at The trustees of Fifteen Foundation are responsible for the content of the Fifteen Social Report. justassurance has used the AA1000 Assurance Standard . This requires us to review the completeness, materiality and responsiveness of the report. To meet AA1000 we: •Interviewed members of Fifteen staff •Discussed the report, accounts and our statement with Fifteen •Identified claims in the Report •Reviewed the consistency between the Report claims and the underlying records on a sample basis OPINION On the basis of the work we have done, we believe this report adequately reflects the social impact of the apprenticeship programme at Fifteen. Our review against the AA1000 Assurance Standard is set out below. COMPLETENESS This report covers the first five years of the operation of Fifteen London and describes its plans for the future. It very largely focuses on the apprentices, which is the right stakeholder priority for a first report. However future reports will need to give a fuller picture of Fifteen’s stakeholder impacts, progressively including customers, staff and the environment amongst others.

Since social reporting has been included in the franchise arrangements for all Fifteen restaurants, the performance of other Fifteen operations should be reported in future years. MATERIALITY The report directly addresses the major issues affecting apprentices past and present. This includes particularly the high rate of nongraduation and the role of the media and of Jamie Oliver in the development of the restaurant. The report also addresses the tension in recruitment between social eligibility for inclusion in the programme and the suitability for professional work of the applicants. This issue goes to the heart of the role in society of Fifteen as a social enterprise. In future years it will be important to ensure that the views of the current apprentices can be seen to determine which issues are considered material to them. RESPONSIVENESS It is good to see that the report pays proper attention to those who did not graduate as well as to those who did. And it is encouraging that non-graduates still regard their time at Fifteen in a positive light. Nevertheless Fifteen is addressing the issue of the level of nongraduation through the introduction of a more structured programme, in line with the recommendations of Gerard Lemos. The next report will establish the approach for a number of years. It will therefore be important to establish a system of targets for expected performance against key stakeholder issues based on robust data collection systems.

Adrian Henriques, Auditor, justassurance October 2007


Fifteen: Life in the present tense

Fifteen Foundation 19 -21 Nile Street London N1 7LL Registred charity number 1094536

Fifteen's Social Report  

Fifteen London's Social Report

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