More Than An Education

The Fifteen Foundation sets up disadvantaged youth with an opportunity to turn their life around - not only giving them a trade for life, but an opportunity to work with some of the best chefs in the world. Originally founded by Jamie Oliver in London, SkillsOne talks to Tobey Puttock, who established a Fifteen restaurant in Melbourne.
We also chat to Glenn Flood, who is the Training and Development chef, who not only teaches the art of cooking, but is involved in youth work and motivating the apprentices.
SkillsOne asks apprentices about the opportunities they've gotten, the benefits and challenges of the apprenticeships - and where they see themselves from here.
Fifteen in Melbourne recruits once a year, usually in March and close in April, with interviews from April. They look for people between the ages of 16 - 24. See their website for more details in becoming part of the program.

About Fifteen:
Fifteen was a concept set up by Jamie Oliver in London in 2002 to offer young people who come from challenging backgrounds (many have histories of substance abuse, homelessness, violence and learning difficulties), giving them the opportunity to train and be employed in a supportive environment.  Fifteen in Melbourne is the fourth restaurant to be opened by them.

They learn everything required to be an amazing chef, including teamwork, professionalism, how to combine flavours and textures, basic budgeting, great recipes, and a respect and understanding of produce.

Of the original team of 16, 9 are still involved with the program.

Some of the challenges they face are getting the young people to show up every day.  Some of the recruits have major personal and family issues to deal with, and helping them with those issues is a priority at Fifteen.  As the recruits continue through the program consistency becomes less of an issue.

The rewards can be fantastic for graduates, with some already having gone onto international travel, and cooking at 5 star resorts around the world.  Others have moved into employment at other high class establishments around Melbourne.  One graduate is working at Fifteen training the next group of young apprentices.

VJ Matthew Jenkin

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