Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen was probably the first proper London restaurant I ever went to. Flashback to 2012: I was the wide-eyed tourist visiting London for the first time, I was rather excited to be catching up with friends for lunch, and at the restaurant of one of those telly chefs no less. Ah, how blissfully green I was back then! Dishes were not photographed before consumption in those days, so I hardly remember anything about the food but I do recall being impressed by the concept and operation of Fifteen.
Over four years later, I’m still impressed. It all started with fifteen young apprentices in this restaurant, all given a chance, not a handout, to gain some skills in the hospitality industry and improve their lives. No matter what you think of Jamie Oliver – sell out, obnoxious motormouth, anti-sugar tyrant, pukka tucker himself – the idea behind this venture, the difference it’s probably made, the standard of food it’s churning out, is all very admirable.