Celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver is one of Britain's most famous exports. His award-winning TV series have been seen in 50 countries and the accompanying best-selling books have been translated into 16 languages.
But apart from his cookery shows and recipe books, the former Naked Chef has also earned respect through his campaigns on behalf of young people. He opened his first Fifteen restaurant in east London in 2002, with the aim of both opening a top class restaurant and giving disadvantaged young people the opportunity to gain professional training that would set them up for an independent, inspired and productive life.
The restaurant took on 15 underprivileged youngsters whom Jamie Oliver trained as chefs and the Fifteen Foundation was born. The charitable venture attracted an avalanche of accolades in 2003, including a Catey Special Award and an MBE.
Fifteen was not to make a profit (of around £400,000) until 2004 but the Fifteen Foundation grew so much that, next to London, it now runs Fifteen restaurants each with their own foundation and apprenticeship schemes) in Amsterdam, Cornwall and Melbourne. It also supports one of its second year graduates, Aaron Craze to run his own business, The Cock Inn in Essex.
Each Fifteen restaurant has its own local identity and works to support its surrounding area. Once a location has been found, a charity is set up to fund and run the apprenticeship. All four restaurants pass up profits to their foundations. In 2006, Fifteen Foundation created an events company, Fifteen Events (formerly Fifteen to You).
While the charitable organisation of the Fifteen Foundation has the backing of Jamie Oliver, he does not own any of its restaurants. He recently announced plans to open his own chain of high street restaurants called Jamie's Italian.
In a recent exclusive interview with Caterer Oliver said: "Everyone from my father to my lawyer and accountant told me not to do Fifteen, but whether it was age, stupidity or just a wonderful vision and belief, it turned out to be something incredibly special. "Fifteen will always be a part of me but I've realised now that it's time for me to do my own thing and achieve my own goals and aspirations. And that can only be me on my own."
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