Young chefs serve Downs diners

THREE lucky youngsters from Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Foundation are in the midst of a whirlwind tour of the finest food growing regions in Queensland - the Southern Downs and Granite Belt.

The Melbourne-based Fifteen Foundation was started in 2002 to inspire disadvantaged young people who may be homeless, unemployed or overcoming drug or alcohol problems to believe they can create for themselves great careers in the restaurant industry.

The three apprentices on this tour - Cengizhan, Glen and Kirra-Lee - are almost at the end of their year-long stint in the Fifteen Melbourne restaurant.

They were selected from this year's apprentices to travel to the Southern Downs and Granite Belt and cook for a sold-out gala charity dinner at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism (QCWT) tonight, as they have stood out from the rest of their counterparts.

Fifteen Melbourne head chef Warren Flanagan has accompanied the three budding chefs and yesterday caught up with the Daily News when they inspected the Wickham Farms processing plant in Killarney.

“Every year we take on 15 youngsters from troubled backgrounds,” Mr Flanagan said.

“After various stages of interviewing and a camp we chose 15 that have a flair and love for cooking... they do a TAFE course to get them up to speed, they then spend a year full-time in (Fifteen Melbourne).”

Southern Downs and Granite Belt Regional Tourism chief operating officer Kim Henshaw said the budding chefs would use locally-sourced ingredients for the five-course charity dinner.

“(The tour) was a collaboration between Tourism Queensland and ourselves and then we took it up with the Fifteen Foundation... it has been in the planning for five months,” Mr Henshaw said.

“The dinner sold out (on Monday)... the salad leaves and vegetables will be from an organic farm on the Granite Belt, the cheese from Granite Belt Dairy Farmhouse Cheese, potatoes from Wickham's and prime Angus beef from Freestone Feedlot.”

Yesterday the group travelled to Freestone Feedlot, Killarney Abattoir and Wickham Farms before travelling to a host of wineries on the Granite Belt.

Today they will travel to Symara Organic Farm, Granite Belt Dairy Farmhouse Cheese and The Bramble Patch before heading to the QCWT to prepare for the dinner at 7pm.

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