02 | Oct | 12

Richard Johnson

Food For Thought

I’ve done my fair share of Awards ceremonies. Each one, in its own way, similar to the Oscars –two hours of sparkling entertainment spread over four hours. The last time I had the joy of actually giving out Awards, I asked people to keep their thankyous short. I was too polite to give them a red light – or start playing the music from Brokeback Mountain really loud – but the first person who dared to thank their agent, or their lawyer, and that microphone was OFF….

Last night’s Awards ceremony in Mayfair was altogether different. It was to honour this year’s graduates from Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Apprentice programme — and to celebrate ten years of the programme itself. After the successful collaboration between the British Street Food Awards, Tweat Up and Fifteen at last month’s Fifteenstreet, we were invited along to come and clap politely in the right places. But it didn’t quite end up like that…

It was the rowdiest Awards ceremony I’ve ever been to. But also the most moving. Each graduate came up to collect a dog tag – like a medal won in battle – and a diploma. Plus a photo with Jamie to put on the bookshelf. A year ago, these students were lost. They needed a break. But Jamie’s inspirational programme has turned them all into kitchen professionals. So many proud families, so many hugs and so many lives turned round. The charity that makes all this possible (the Better Food Foundation) really deserves our support….