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Stepping out of your comfort zone to make a difference

In 2002, celebrated chef, author, and restaurateur Jamie Oliver set up Fifteen, a not for profit London based restaurant, set up to help unemployed and disadvantaged young people become chefs.

Still aged only 27 he’d already had huge success with the televised Naked Chef, had paid off his mortgage a few years earlier and was riding the crest of a wave.

Life certainly would have been easier if he’d stuck to his chosen career path. However, he was determined to make a difference to young people living on the fringes of society, and to do it had to step out of his “comfort zone.”

He created Fifteen, a charitable foundation that trained and rehabilitated vulnerable young people, giving them a second chance at life by giving them the skills to build a successful career. Combining fantastic, locally sourced food with this inspiring story Jamie knew they’d be creating something unique!

“It was mad,” he says of those early days when fame and fortune arrived.  “I had my mortgage paid off at 24, which was nuts. But I didn’t give a f*** about money, and I can prove that because not long after, I spent every penny I had in the bank on Fifteen. Everyone, including my dad, told me not to do it, but I did it because I was stupid, reckless and I had a dream.”

Every penny? Surely he’s exaggerating. “I swear. It cost me £2.8 million and I had budgeted for £600,000.”

Jamie also remortgaged his house to pay for the school he’d set up to train these youngsters, so the pressure was on, especially as he didn’t tell Mrs Oliver he’d done it!!

The Fifteen Apprentice Programme ran from 2002 – 2016 and has been responsible for transforming many young lives.  The restaurant still runs as a non-profit organisation training young chefs, with Fifteen Foundation franchises in Amsterdam, Cornwall and Melbourne.

To do something amazing, sometimes all you need do is step outside your comfort zone and take a risk.