In the early 90s, Jamie Oliver, one of the world’s best loved chefs, was struck by the idea of cooking as a potential career path for young unemployed people – specifically those who had fallen out of mainstream education and were in need of a fresh new start in life. And from there, the concept of Fifteen began to take shape. His idea was simple: to establish a reputable London-based restaurant that offered young, unemployed people the experience of learning to work in the restaurant business. In late 2002, he opened Fifteen London and recruited 15 young apprentices to train alongside a team of 25 professional chefs and mentors. Nine years on, Fifteen continues to have the Apprentice Programme at the heart of its busy restaurant operations. (Information from www.jamieoliver.com)
The story of the beginning of Fifteen resonates so deeply with us at Singita because of the reasons why the Singita School of Cooking was created. The Singita School of Cooking is located on site at the staff village that serves Lebombo and Sweni Lodges. It was established with the aim of encouraging the development of culinary skills amongst local youth. Eight to 10 students are selected and they attend an 18-month training programme. Having completed their training, some are employed as Comis Chefs in a Singita kitchen or in other Kruger National Park lodge kitchens. The first of these programmes was run in 2007, ensuring that a core of young people from the local area has already been equipped with life-long skills and a positive future.
Now the culmination of 2 and a half years’ work, building a connection with Fifteen, we are privileged to welcome Lucien Green, the Senior Training and Development Chef for Fifteen’s Apprentice Programme to the Singita School of Cooking this week. He will be reviewing the training curriculum, chef skills’ development, and also will be conducting Master classes for the Singita Kruger chefs and students at the cooking school.
Spirits are high at the Singita School of Cooking as the students prepare for their introduction to Lucien Green tomorrow. We hope you’ll follow our photo journal this week as we watch the next chapter of the Singita School of Cooking story enfold.