Jamie Oliver
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Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver (cropped).jpg
Jamie Oliver in 2014
Born James Trevor Oliver
(1975-05-27) 27 May 1975 (age 42)
Clavering, Essex, England
Education Westminster Kingsway College
Juliette Norton (m. 2000)
Children 5
Website jamieoliver.com
Culinary career
Cooking style Organic
Italian cuisine
British cuisine

James Trevor Oliver, MBE (born 27 May 1975) is a British celebrity chef and restaurateur. His typically English cuisine has garnered him numerous television shows and restaurants.

Born and raised in the village of Clavering, Essex, he was educated in London before taking his first culinary engagement at Antonio Carluccio's Neal Street restaurant as a pastry chef. When he moved to serve as a sous chef at The River Café he was noticed by the BBC and in 1999 debuted his television show, The Naked Chef which was followed by his first cook book subsequently becoming the No. 1 best-seller in the UK. After his Naked Chef Series he was endorsed by multiple companies and expanded his television capacity to include a documentary called Jamie's Kitchen; garnering him an invitation from the Prime Minister to 10 Downing Street. In June 2003, Oliver was honoured as a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

In 2005, Oliver initiated a campaign originally called Feed Me Better to move British schoolchildren towards eating healthy foods and cutting out junk food; this campaign was eventually backed by the British government. Soon after he launched his first high-end restaurant, Jamie's Italian, in Oxford in 2008 and hosted a TED Talk winning him the 2010 TED Prize.

Early life

James Trevor Oliver was born and raised in the village of Clavering. His parents, Trevor and Sally Oliver, ran a pub/restaurant, The Cricketers, where he practised cooking in the kitchen with his parents.[1] He has two siblings and was educated at Newport Free Grammar School.

He left school at the age of sixteen with two GCSE qualifications in Art and Geology[2] and went on to attend Westminster Technical College now Westminster Kingsway College.[1] He then earned a City & Guilds National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in home economics.[3]


Oliver cooking at one of the Scandic Hotels (2014)

Oliver's first job was a pastry chef at Antonio Carluccio's Neal Street restaurant, where he first gained experience with preparing Italian cuisine, and developed a relationship with his mentor Gennaro Contaldo. (Later in his career, Oliver employed Contaldo to help run his successful collection of high street restaurants, Jamie's Italian[4]), Oliver moved to The River Café, Fulham, as a sous chef. It was there that he was noticed by the BBC in 1997, after making an unscripted appearance in a documentary about the restaurant, Christmas at the River Cafe.[5]

In 1999, his BBC show The Naked Chef débuted, and his cookbook became a No. 1 best-seller in the United Kingdom.[6] That same year, Oliver was invited to prepare lunch for the Prime Minister Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street.[6]

In June 2000, Oliver became the face of the United Kingdom supermarket chain Sainsbury's, through an endorsement deal worth $2 million a year.[6] In July 2011, after eleven years, the partnership between Oliver and Sainsbury's ended. The final television advertisement was for Christmas 2011.[7]

After three series of Naked Chef programmes (The Naked Chef, Return of the Naked Chef & Happy Days with The Naked Chef) for the BBC, Oliver moved to Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, where his first series was a documentary, Jamie's Kitchen which followed the setting up of Fifteen restaurant in London. The restaurant, in Westland Place, London, continues to train young adults who have a disadvantaged background for careers in the restaurant business.[8]

In June 2003, Oliver was awarded an MBE for his services to the hospitality industry.[9] Although it is customary to wear a tie for the prestigious event, Jamie Oliver had decided to wear a brown suit instead, since wearing a tie had made him nervous [10]

In 2005, Oliver initiated a campaign originally called Feed Me Better to move British schoolchildren towards eating healthy foods and cutting out junk food. As a result, the British government also pledged to address the issue. Delving into politics to push for changes in nutrition resulted in people voting him as the "Most Inspiring Political Figure of 2005," according to a Channel 4 News annual viewer poll.[6] His emphasis on cooking fresh, nutritious food continued as he created Jamie's Ministry of Food, a television series where Oliver travelled to inspire everyday people in Rotherham, Yorkshire, to cook healthy meals. Another television series is Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (2010-11), where he travelled first to Huntington, West Virginia and then to Los Angeles to change the way Americans eat, and address their dependence on fast food.[6]

Oliver's holding company, Jamie Oliver Holdings Ltd., earned enough for Oliver to have been listed on The Sunday Times list of richest Britons under 30.[11][12]

Burgers at Jamie's Italian at Oxford

In June 2008, he launched a restaurant called Jamie's Italian, his first high-street business venture, in Oxford, England.[13] Jamie's Italian has proved successful and there are now thirty five restaurants in the collection. The brand has been franchised globally and now includes branches in the UAE, Australia, Canada, Cyprus, Iceland, Ireland, Russia, Turkey, Singapore and Hong Kong. In December 2009, Oliver received the 2010 TED Prize.[14] In 2009 his chain of cooking school/delis called Recipease were opened in several locations in the UK including Brighton, Clapham and Notting Hill in London. By the end of 2015 all stores had been closed.

Oliver hosted Jamie's 15 Minute Meals on Channel 4, which aired for 40 episodes in 2012.[15]

In January 2018, Oliver announced that he was to close 12 Jamie's Italians and was seeking rent reductions on another 8.[16]


From June 2000, Oliver was the public face of the Sainsbury's supermarket chain in the UK, appearing on television and radio advertisements and in-store promotional material. The deal earned him an estimated £1.2 million every year, although neither J. Sainsbury nor Oliver have ever discussed the exact figure.[17]

By 2004, the company had made 65 advertisements with him, but this arrangement has not been without controversy. Oliver was reported to have admitted that he does not use supermarkets. He criticised Sainsbury's CEO Justin King when Oliver slammed the "junk" sold by supermarkets that ends up in the lunchboxes of millions of children. King reportedly hit back, saying: "Dictating to people--or unleashing an expletive-filled tirade--is not the way to get engagement."[18]

Oliver also markets a line of non-stick pans and cookware for Tefal and has appeared in Australian television commercials for Yalumba wines, using Del Boy's catchphrase of "Lovely Jubbly".[19]

In August 2013, Oliver and Canadian supermarket chain Sobeys announced a partnership in improving nationwide nutrition and advertising campaigns.[20] In October 2013, he began a partnership with the Australian chain Woolworths Supermarkets on a series of better nutrition initiatives and advertising campaigns.[21]

On January 2016, Jamie Oliver and HelloFresh, an international meal kit subscription service, announced a partnership to incorporate his recipes to the weekly subscription deliveries. Customers receive one recipe written by Jamie Oliver with all the exact ingredients and steps for the dish. HelloFresh also agreed to the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation per Meal Box in addition to supporting other Foundation activities.[22]


In 2005, Oliver was widely criticised by animal rights groups for slaughtering a fully conscious lamb on his TV show, with PETA stating that it showed to the public problems with the methods used within slaughterhouses.[23] PETA spokesman Sean Gifford said that the footage hopefully "could turn the more diehard carnivore into a vegetarian". British TV regulator Ofcom reported seven complaints from the public.[23]

Jamie Oliver in Toronto 2010

Oliver has been known for his comments about other chefs and has spoken out against Marco Pierre White, who has been critical of Oliver in the past, and the swearing of Gordon Ramsay.[24]

In 2005, Oliver embarked upon his school dinners campaign to improve the quality of food fed to pupils in schools. While the campaign was arguably successful,[25] at the time it was a controversial shake-up for students and parents, some of whom believed that the students should have a healthy option available, but still be given the choice as to what they want to eat.

In 2011, Oliver, an advocate of cooking meals from scratch and using local produce, caused controversy after it turned out the sauces used in Jamie's Italian in Glasgow were from an industrial park almost 400 miles away in Bicester.[26] That same year, he came under fire for lack of food safety protections in his restaurants and illnesses associated with under-cooking mince meat that may have been contaminated with E. coli.[27]

In 2014, Oliver's central London butchery Barbecoa was voluntarily closed for 24 hours after hygiene inspectors gave it the second lowest rating. The Times reported they had found mouse droppings, mouldy carcasses and out-of-date meat.[28]

Oliver and Gordon Ramsay are spokeschefs for the "Big Fish Fight", which campaigns for sustainable seafood, but were criticised for their use of endangered fish.[29][30]

Oliver was criticised for underestimating the cost of supposedly cheap food he encouraged poor people to prepare for themselves, also for an unrealistic view of poverty in Britain and round the Mediterranean.[31]Cookery writer and poverty campaigner Jack Monroe stated that Oliver's comments "support damaging myths that poor people are only poor because they spend their money on the wrong things, rather than being constrained by time, equipment, knowledge or practicalities".[32] Monroe added, "When I was living on £10 a week for food, because of mistakes with housing benefit payments, I didn't need a hug. I needed a fiver, just to have a little bit more to eat. I didn't need [a trip] to Sicily to see how the street cleaners ate, I needed someone to point out that the 21p can of kidney beans could be the staple ingredient in a nutritious meal. I needed practical advice about what to do with the tins of food given to me by the food bank."[33]

In 2014 Oliver became the culinary face of Woolworths Supermarkets.[34] Oliver came under strong criticism over the funding of the advertising surrounding his relationship with the supermarket.[35]

"Moreover, in this case he is not a spectator but effectively a beneficiary of these demands on our farmers. If he doesn't approve of Woolworths' ethics, he can withdraw from the campaign, and refund his endorsement fee. In the last 12 months, the average vegetable grower has gone from making a small profit to making a loss. In the same 12 months, Mr Oliver's wealth rose by an estimated £90 million. Now we know how."[36][37][38]

Charity and campaigning

Oliver conceived and established the Fifteen charity restaurant, where he trained disadvantaged young people to work in the hospitality industry. Following the success of the original restaurant in London, more Fifteens have opened around the globe: Fifteen Amsterdam opened in December 2004, Fifteen Cornwall in Newquay in May 2006 and Fifteen Melbourne in September 2006 with Australian friend and fellow chef Tobie Puttock.[39] Fifteen Melbourne has since closed.[40][]

Oliver began a formal campaign to ban unhealthy food in British schools and to get children eating nutritious food instead. Oliver's efforts to bring radical change to the school meals system, chronicled in the series Jamie's School Dinners, challenged the junk-food culture by showing schools they could serve healthy, cost-efficient meals that kids enjoyed eating.[41] His efforts brought the subject of school dinners to the political forefront and changed the types of food served in schools.[42]

Oliver's Ministry of Food campaign began in 2008 with the Channel 4 series of the same name and the opening of the first Ministry of Food Centre in Rotherham. More MoF Centres have since opened in Bradford, Leeds, Newcastle/North-East, Stratford (now known as Food Academy) and Alnwick. Ministry of Food Centres and trucks have opened in Australia in Ipswich, near Brisbane and Geelong, Melbourne. State governments in Australia provided valuable funding for these Centres.[]

In December 2009, Oliver was awarded the 2010 TED Prize for his campaigns to "create change on both the individual and governmental levels" to "bring attention to the changes that the English, and now Americans, need to make in their lifestyles and diet."[14] In 2010, he joined several other celebrity chefs on the series The Big Fish Fight, in which Oliver and fellow chefs Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Gordon Ramsay made a variety of programmes [clarification needed] to raise awareness about the discarding of hundreds of thousands of saltwater fish because the fishermen are prohibited from keeping any fish other than the stated target of the trawl.[43] He is a patron of environmental charity Trees for Cities.[44]

Oliver's net worth was estimated in 2014 at £240 million.[45]

Awards and honours

In June 2003, Oliver was awarded the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.[46] A proponent of fresh organic foods, Oliver was named the most influential person in the UK hospitality industry when he topped the inaugural Caterersearch.com 100 in May 2005.[47] The list placed Oliver higher than Sir Francis Mackay, the then-chairman of the contract catering giant Compass Group, which Oliver had soundly criticised in Jamie's School Dinners. In 2006, Oliver dropped to second on the list behind fellow celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.[48] In July 2010, Oliver regained the top spot and was named as the most powerful and influential person in the UK hospitality industry once again.[49]

In 2013, Oliver was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal College of General Practitioners for his work in tackling childhood obesity by improving the nutritional value of school dinners.[50]

On 29 October 2015, Oliver was listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 2 in the list of 100 Most Influential British Entrepreneurs.[51][52]

Personal life

In July 2000, Oliver married Juliette Norton.[53] They have five children: Charlene Honey Rosie (b. March 2002), Daisy Boo Pamela (b. April 2003), Petal Blossom Rainbow (b. April 2009), Buddy Bear Maurice (b. September 2010) and River Rocket Blue Dallas (b. August 2016). [54][55] The family lives in Clavering, Essex.

Oliver has severe dyslexia, and read his first novel (Catching Fire) in 2013, at the age of 38.[56]

In 2015 Oliver lost two stone in three months by getting enough sleep and diet he told The Times magazine.[57]

Television shows

Year Programme Description/Notes
1999-2001 The Naked Chef 3 series plus 3 specials
Oliver's first series. The title was a reference to the simplicity of Oliver's recipes and has nothing to do with nudity. Oliver has frequently admitted that he was not entirely happy with the title, which was devised by producer Patricia Llewellyn.
In the UK edit of the show, the opening titles include a clip of him telling an unseen questioner, "No way! It's not me, it's the food!" The success of the programme led to the books "The Naked Chef" (1999) Return of the Naked Chef (2000) and Happy Days with the Naked Chef (2001).
Pukka Tukka Channel 4 special (2000)
2002 Oliver's Twist 52 episodes
Jamie's Kitchen A five-part 2002 documentary series. It followed Oliver as he attempted to train a group of disadvantaged youths, who would, if they completed the course, be offered jobs at Oliver's new restaurant "Fifteen" in Westland Place, London, N1.
2003 Return to Jamie's Kitchen 2 episodes
2005 Jamie's School Dinners A four-part documentary series. Oliver took responsibility for running the kitchen meals in Kidbrooke School, Greenwich, for a year. Disgusted by the unhealthy food being served to schoolchildren and the lack of healthy alternatives on offer, Oliver began a campaign to improve the standard of Britain's school meals. Public awareness was raised and subsequently the British Government pledged to spend £280m on school dinners (spread over three years). Tony Blair acknowledged that this was a result of Oliver's campaign. Following the success of the campaign, Oliver was named "Most Inspiring Political Figure of 2005" in the Channel 4 Political Awards 2006. In episode 2 of Jamie's School Dinners, Oliver's Fifteen London restaurant was visited by former US President Bill Clinton, who asked to see Oliver. Oliver declined.[why?][clarification needed] 36 people showed up for a booking of 20 and many of them were on a South Beach Diet and refused the special menu that had been prepared, although it had been approved in advance.[58]
Jamie's Great Italian Escape A six-part travelogue series, was first broadcast on Channel 4 in Britain in October 2005. It follows Oliver as he travels around Italy in a blue VW van (plus a trailer for cooking). He is about to turn 30 and this is his personal adventure to rediscover his love of cooking.[59]
2006 Jamie's Kitchen Australia 10 episodes
2007 Jamie's Chef A four-part series continuing where Jamie's Kitchen left off. Five years and fifty trainees later, this series aims to help the winning trainee establish their own restaurant at The Cock, a pub near Braintree, Essex. The charitable Fifteen Foundation retains ownership of the property and has provided a £125,000 loan for the winner, Aaron Craze, to refurbish the establishment. As of 13 January 2008, the Cock has closed down and reopened as a regular pub.[60][61]
Jamie's Return to School Dinners (2007) One-off programme which revisits some of the schools from the earlier School Dinners series as well as exploring how rural schools without kitchens can improvise to ensure children get a hot, nutritious meal during the school day.[]
Jamie at Home Featured Oliver presenting home-style recipes and gardening tips, with many ingredients coming from his substantial home garden in Clavering, Essex. Jamie at Home airs on the Food Network in the United States. Due to licensing restrictions, only two recipes from each Jamie at Home episode appear online; also, access to recipes is limited to users within the United States.[62]
2008 Jamie's Fowl Dinners A special with Jamie backing Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's "Hugh's Chicken Run" in trying to get the British to eat free range chickens.[63]
Jamie's Ministry of Food A four-part series that aired from 30 September to 21 October 2008;[64] based in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.[65] Oliver aimed to make the town "the culinary capital of the United Kingdom" and tried to get the town's inhabitants to learn how to cook fresh food and establish healthy eating as part of daily life.[66] The 'Pass It On' campaign also featured in this series with the local townspeople being taught one of a selection of recipes and passing it on to family members and friends.[65] The 'Pass It On' campaign gained a following on the social networking website Facebook which has a group and fan page with users signing up to chart their progress. As a result of the series, the first Ministry of Food Centre was set up in Rotherham offering cooking classes to local people. Further Ministry of Food Centres have opened across the UK and in Australia.[]
What's Cooking? with Jamie Oliver Video game
2009 Jamie Saves Our Bacon Part of Channel 4's British Food Fight Season, a thematic sequel to Jamie's Fowl Dinners. In the special, Oliver looks at the state of pig farming in the UK and EU. It was broadcast on 29 January 2009.[67]
Jamie's American Road Trip A Channel 4 series following Oliver in the US, where he meets and learns from cooks at street stalls, off-road diners and down-to-earth local restaurants. Along the way, he picks up new recipes and learns how other cultures adapt when they come to the USA.[68]
Jamie's Family Christmas A short series (5 episodes) on Channel 4 with Oliver cooking traditional and new Christmas dishes. Unusually, the series includes members of Oliver's family: a family member (wife, children, sister etc.) appears in a supporting role with the preparation of particular recipe interspersed with more traditional Jamie alone delivery to an off-camera person. First broadcast 15 December 2009.[69]
2010-2011 Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution A series that aired during 2010 and 2011 on ABC in the United States. In the first season, Oliver visited Huntington, West Virginia, statistically one of the unhealthiest cities in the US, to try to improve its residents' eating habits. In 2010, the show won an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Programme.[70] In the second season Oliver visited Los Angeles, where his crusade to change school meals was met with resistance. Oliver was ultimately barred from filming at any Los Angeles public school. The show's cancellation was announced by ABC in May 2011, two weeks before the final episode of the season had aired. In one episode it showed what mechanically separated chicken looks like.[71] The program also aired in the United Kingdom on Channel 4 under the title Jamie's American Food Revolution, Australia on Channel 10 under the original title, and in Malaysia on TLC channel (Astro Channel 707) under the original title.
Jamie Does... A Channel 4 series of 6 episodes following the success of Jamie's American Road Trip. Oliver travels across Europe and North Africa, cooking local dishes. Known as Jamie Oliver's Food Escapes in the US. Countries visited include Morocco, Spain, Greece, France, Italy and Sweden.
2010 Jamie's 30-Minute Meals A Channel 4 series of 40 episodes aired during October-November. The programme focused on home-cooked meals that could be put together within the titular timeframe, using simple, 'not cheffy' techniques, with an emphasis on educating viewers about the cooking processes themselves.[72]
2011 Jamie's Dream School A Channel 4 series that looks at young people's educational problems and attempts to uncover whether they are down to personal circumstance, society or the education system itself. It also examines how the new teachers get on as they try to translate their real-life expertise into the realities of the classroom. Professor Robert Winston, historian David Starkey, barrister Cherie Blair, journalist and political aide Alastair Campbell, actor Simon Callow, artist Rolf Harris, musician Jazzie B and Olympic gold medallist Daley Thompson all offer their opinions during the series. As a result of the series, many of the pupils return to education and one, Danielle Harold, pursues an acting career and wins a role in BBC's long-running EastEnders soap opera.[]
Jamie's Fish Supper A one-hour special show in which Oliver cooked 10 fish recipes as a part of Big Fish Fight campaign.[73]
Jamie Cooks Summer A one-hour special in which Oliver cooked summer dishes in various outdoor locations.[74]
Jamie's Great Britain A six-part series in which Oliver travels the length and breadth of the country in search of new ideas and inspiration for recipes and to find out what makes British food great.[75]
2012 Jamie's 15-Minute Meals With people becoming ever more time-poor, the 15-Minute Meals series showed, in real time, how delicious fresh meals could be put together in a quarter of an hour.[]
Jamie & Jimmy's Food Fight Club 4-part series with childhood friend Jimmy Doherty. The series is based around a "studio" in a café at the end of Southend Pier, Essex which Jamie and Jimmy would visit as children. The series also involves "food fights" with other European countries - for example, a competition to see whether British artisanal beers and ales are better than their Belgian counterparts.
2013 Dream School USA US version of Jamie's Dream School with actor David Arquette in the mentoring role.
Jamie's Money Saving Meals Six-part series based on the recipes in the Save with Jamie book which aims to help people to save money while still cooking delicious food using fresh ingredients. A second series aired from June 2014 in the UK. Also known as Save with Jamie in some regions.
2014 - 2018 Jamie & Jimmy's Friday Night Feast Oliver and Doherty join forces again at their end-of-the-pier café to make top feasts for the weekend. This series focused on championing "lost" British classic foods such as the Bedfordshire clanger and Maid of Honour Tarts.
Jamie's Comfort Food An eight-part series based on the recipes in the Jamie's Comfort Food book which aims to teach people how to make rich, fun and delicious comfort food for larger groups.
Jamie's Super Food

Other television appearances

Oliver has twice guest-hosted Channel 4's The Friday Night Project and has made two appearances in the "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car" segment of BBC Two's Top Gear. In his first appearance he attempted to make a green salad in the back of his Volkswagen Microbus, which was fitted with a Porsche engine, while the Stig drove it around the Top Gear test track.[]

Oliver is the second British celebrity chef (after Robert Irvine) to appear as a challenger on Iron Chef America, taking on Iron Chef Mario Batali in 2008 in a losing battle with cobia as the theme ingredient.[76]

Oliver was one of the judges in the Oprah's Big Give hosted by Oprah Winfrey in the United States in 2008.[77]

The Happy Days Live tour was Oliver's first live show in 2001 and included several dates in the UK and Australasia. Performing to sold-out venues, he cooked on stage and interacted with the audiences with competitions, music and special effects only usually seen in pop concerts. He took the audiences by surprise by singing and drumming to a song called Lamb Curry written by his longtime friend Leigh Haggerwood.[]

Oliver took to the road once more in 2006 on an Australian tour where he performed in Sydney and Melbourne. Following the entertaining format of his first live show, the 2006 Australian tour featuring special guests including mentor Gennaro Contaldo, and students from Fifteen London. He performed a new song written by Leigh Haggerwood called Fish Stew which Oliver cooked to and also drummed along to at the end of the show. The shows were considered by some to be a great success and are featured in a one-off TV documentary called Jamie Oliver: Australian Diary.[78]



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  74. ^ Jamie Cooks Summer Archived 12 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine., Jamie Oliver website. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  75. ^ "Jamie's Great Britain" at Jamie Oliver website. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  76. ^ "Jamie Oliver appears on American Iron Chef". Showbizspy.com. 8 January 2008. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 2013. 
  77. ^ "Chef Jamie Oliver's Big Give Recipe". Oprah.com. Retrieved 2016. 
  78. ^ Staff (5 October 2002). "Jamie Oliver: Happy Days Tour Live". Dvdtown.com. Retrieved 2010. [permanent dead link]

Further reading

External links

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