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Fifteen Cornwall trainees cook up a storm in college kitchen

The first year's intake of students for Fifteen Cornwall begin their trainingNow a month into their training programme at Cornwall College, the first year's intake of students for Fifteen Cornwall are making excellent progress preparing for the opening of the first Fifteen restaurant in the UK outside London at Watergate Bay in May.

More than 300 applications were received from hopefuls at the end of last year and after a tough week of interviews and selection exercises with 150 of the short listed applicants, the final aspiring chefs were chosen just before Christmas.

Typical of the students is Emily Ratcliffe, 19, from Launceston who described her excitement at being selected: "I was really speechless. All I could say was 'wow!' I couldn't believe it was really happening."

Fifteen Cornwall trainee Lee Hodge, 20, from Portreath said: "I was really pleased and felt like a new door had been opened and this was my golden opportunity to succeed in life. I'm so thankful that I've been given this opportunity and I'm really going to work hard to achieve the best possible outcome I can and make my friends and family proud. You only get one life and you've got to take every opportunity."

The twenty trainees, aged between 16 – 24 years, have been recruited from the length and breadth of Cornwall and are currently undergoing a 12 week intensive training course at Cornwall College before they start at the Fifteen Cornwall kitchen at the end of April. "I'm absolutely delighted by the progress and promise shown by the students in such a short space of time", comments Fiona Were, Fifteen Cornwall Training and Development Chef. "What's become really evident is that that we're working with a group of really bright kids, they're disadvantaged by a variety of social and personal problems which doesn't affect their ability to learn the skills they need to become great chefs. With the right support and encouragement the trainees have been doing amazingly well and from day one in the training kitchen I've been astounded by how quickly they've picked up what they're being taught."

One of the key objectives of Fifteen Cornwall is to give young people from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to have a fresh start and turn their lives around. This becomes evident when hearing why some of the students applied for the once in a lifetime opportunity:

"The Fifteen course came along at just the right time for me because I was stuck in a rut doing nothing and before you know it a year passes so easily. I wanted to make something of myself and make my little girl proud." said Kieran Venner, 19, from St Austell.

"I'd seen Fifteen on TV and I've always admired Jamie Oliver's confidence and passion and I knew that it was something I'd love to do. I was at a bit of a loose end when I saw the advert, I felt like I was wasting way too much time doing very little and it seemed like a fantastic opportunity," said Ami Phillips, 23, from Penzance.

"I applied to Fifteen because I was fed up with doing nothing with my life. I felt like part of the sofa and I needed to feel like I had a reason to get up and go," said Phil Nancholas, 20, from Falmouth.

Whilst working towards an NVQ level one in food preparation and cookery the trainees are learning the skills needed to work in a professional kitchen as well as experiencing new tastes and working with ingredients that many had not encountered before. Talking about his favourite part of the course so far and the experience of being a Fifteen Cornwall trainee, Ashley Channon, 20, from Carbis Bay near St Ives said: "I'm enjoying producing amazing food, making some good mates and enjoying what I am doing at work."

Trainee chef Sam Lounds, 20, from Newquay said: "I've enjoyed learning new dishes at college so I can use them at home and show my friends and family."

Zelah James, 22, from Newquay, one of the four women on the course said: "I'm enjoying producing amazing dishes that I didn't think I'd be able to make – it's great."

Although their time with Fifteen Cornwall has only just started, many of the trainees are already starting to plan their futures for the first time. When asked what they hope to be doing in five years time Sharon Wilson, 23, from Bodmin said: "I hope to be fully qualified and working towards becoming a head chef in either my own restaurant or in a well established place. A Michelin star would obviously be the ultimate achievement."

Trainee chef Andrew Harris, 19, from St Blazey said: "I'm looking forward to working as a world class international chef and working in a top restaurant. In five years time I would like to be a head chef in a big hotel in the USA, Amsterdam or Italy."

Foundation Director Mark Scothern said: "The next year is certainly going to be an exciting one for everyone involved. The best part is that beyond Fifteen Cornwall the young people we're working with will be able to look forward to bright futures where the world truly is their oyster. Many of the trainees are already starting to think about where they'd like to be in five years time. The students are now beginning to consider career options that would have been unimaginable just two months ago. We're extremely proud of them."

Don McKenzie, Head of the Hotel and Catering Department at Cornwall College Camborne said: "Some of the trainees hadn't experienced a professional kitchen environment before so they had a lot to learn in such a short space to be ready for their placements ahead of starting in the Fifteen Cornwall kitchen. The students have come to us with a lot of enthusiasm and I'm confident that will help them to do really well. Cornwall College is delighted to be playing a part in such an exciting project. We hope that this first intake of trainees will provide a boost to the local culinary talent that will help to put Cornwall on the map for its fantastic food whilst showing other young people in the county that there are opportunities to have a great career in the catering and hospitality industry."

After completing their course at Cornwall College in March the students will join kitchens throughout Cornwall for four weeks of work experience before starting at the Fifteen Cornwall kitchen ahead of its official opening in May.

For further information please contact Laura Tregonning, Deborah Clark & Associates Ltd on 01872 276276 or email:

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Fifteen project through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).


Editor's notes:


Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

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