Jamie Oliver charity chief quits

Jamie Oliver charity chief quits
The Guardian

Liam Black, the charismatic social entrepreneur and director of TV chef Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Foundation, which is famous for training and employing socially excluded youths as chefs, has quit to develop a new business project.

Black has run the foundation, a registered charity which oversees four restaurants bearing the Fifteen brand in London, Cornwall, Amsterdam and Melbourne, for three and a half years.

The Fifteen Foundation was born out of Oliver’s 2002 hit documentary series Jamie’s Kitchen, which followed Oliver’s attempts to take a group of unemployed youths from difficult social backgrounds and turn them into chefs at the Fifteen restaurant. The show spawned two offshoots, Return to Jamie’s Kitchen, and Jamie’s Chef, shown last year, in which Black featured in person.

Fifteen’s profits are invested in a programme to provide training and support for around 20 unemployed, undereducated and unskilled youngsters a year to prepare them for a career in the catering industry.

Black, whose departure at the end of January is set to be officially announced next week, said his departure was not acrimonious and that he’d achieved most of what he’d set out to do with Fifteen. ‘I’m going to have a rest, be a better husband and father, write a book, and in time set up a new business.’ he told Society Guardian.

He said the London Fifteen had experienced its most successful year in profit terms and that the Cornwall restaurant, which opened in the summer of 2006 has been a great success.

The son of an Irish bricklayer, Black cut his teeth in the sector in the 90s with the Liverpool-based Furniture Resource Group, which he turned from a charity into a £5.5m social business. He has also advised the government on its social enterprise strategy.