Fifteen Cornwall recently celebrated its third birthday
PUBLISHED: 16:21 06 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:06 20 February 2013
In this July issue, Cornwall Life finds out how Fifteen Cornwall has developed since it began three years ago
Fifteen's Food Community
Fifteen Cornwall recently celebrated its third birthday. Cornwall Life finds out how it has developed during this time, about its thriving food culture and the latest set of graduates
Having just celebrated its third birthday, the team at Fifteen Cornwall in Watergate Bay is looking forward to a busy summer. The day starts early, with deliveries of the freshest local produce to the door. London restaurants might fight for the best prime fish, landed in Cornwall's ports, but for Fifteen Cornwall, the day's catch could not be fresher. Plump summer berries, other fruits, meat and vegetables are also delivered to the beachfront, while inside, the smell of freshly baked bread and pastries for breakfast is intoxicating.
Neil Haydock, Executive Chef at Fifteen Cornwall, is passionate about the importance and value of supporting Cornwall's local producers. This is reflected in the restaurant's policy, where it aims to source a minimum of 80% of its ingredients from within the county.
Neil has been at Fifteen Cornwall since the restaurant opened in May 2006. He joined from the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados and has cooked at top London restaurants. Neil is the driving force behind the Fifteen Cornwall menu, which changes daily according to the local produce available.
Neil has an excellent relationship with local suppliers and he often works closely with local producers in the development plans for their businesses, encouraging the thriving food culture for which Cornwall is increasingly renowned. The restaurant's Italian-inspired menu enhances the natural quality of Cornish produce, which is prepared and cooked simply in order to bring out its true quality and flavour.
"Whether it's tomatoes, lettuces and organic vegetables from Buttervilla, rare-breed Cornish red chicken supplied through local butcher Angus Trotter, free-range veal from Bocaddon Rose Farm, Cornish Earlies from Deliciously Dirty or St Keverne cheese, Fifteen Cornwall's commitment to suppliers in the county is a crucial element of the restaurant's identity," says Neil. It is this commitment that is strongly and passionately passed on by Neil to his team of professional and apprentice chefs (the 'black hats' and 'white hats' respectively).
Fifteen Cornwall takes 20 apprentice chefs each year from across the county and puts them through an intensive course at Cornwall College before they join Executive Chef Neil Haydock and his team of 20 professional chefs in the kitchen. "Over a twelve-month period, they are helped and supported by the whole team at Fifteen Cornwall. The apprentices have all overcome various barriers to join the team and, having completed their NVQ1 in catering studies at Cornwall College, they then join the black hats and me in the day-to-day running of the kitchen, continuing with one day a week at college to study for their NVQ2," adds Neil. This year-long programme gives the apprentices the opportunity to transform their lives and build a career in the restaurant industry.
Graduation Day took place in June and this year Jamie Oliver visited Watergate Bay to attend the graduation of the third cohort of apprentices in a small private ceremony and to welcome the new intake to Fifteen Cornwall. He joined Neil Haydock in the kitchen to help prepare a fundraising lunch.
It was, of course, Jamie Oliver's idea to establish the social enterprise Fifteen, launched with the television programme back in 2002 - and he retains a strong interest as a Trustee of the Fifteen Foundation in London. Commenting on Fifteen Cornwall and this year's graduation, Jamie says: "Fifteen Cornwall has really made a big impact in helping young Cornish people to start to build a brilliant career. These latest eight graduates of Fifteen Cornwall have worked incredibly hard for 18 months and I really hope they all go on to greater things within the industry."
While Jamie undoubtedly provides great inspiration to the team at Fifteen Cornwall, the operation of the restaurant, its daily changing menus and the training of the apprentices are all very firmly in the hands of the staff at Watergate Bay. It takes its responsibilities to the local area very seriously. Neil explains: "All profits from Fifteen Cornwall go to The Cornwall Foundation of Promise, which supports and inspires disadvantaged young people in Cornwall. Every aspect of the restaurant has been designed to minimise environmental impact, including low-energy lighting and heating, rain water to flush loos and extensive recycling with Fifteen's pink Recycle Bubble vehicle used to transport waste."
In terms of what's cooking at Fifteen Cornwall this summer, it's all about light textures, clean flavours and vibrant colours. Lunchtime visitors might find line-caught Cornish tuna and heritage tomatoes with a dollop of aioli on the menu, while diners could be enjoying Cornish lobster on the six-course tasting menu in the evening - with carefully selected wines to match.
Looking ahead to the autumn, a date for the diary is the Farmers' Market at Fifteen Cornwall on 10 October, where many of the restaurant's favourite local suppliers and producers will be selling their wares. It will also be a chance to see Neil during one of his cookery demonstrations, which will help inspire cooks to get in the kitchen and make the most of the wonderful array of seasonal produce Cornwall has to offer.
Fifteen Cornwall (01637 861000, www.fifteencornwall.co.uk