Jamie Oliver, the cheeky cockney chef, originally from Cambridge, enjoyed cooking from a young age when he helped out in the kitchen of his parent's public house in Clavering, near Saffron Walden in Essex, England. From the age of 8, Oliver could be found in the kitchen of the Cricketers restaurant helping the staff by peeling potatoes and preparing vegetables. By the age of 11 he was as acomplished as the paid staff, and was as quick as them to julienne vegetables.
Aged 16, he studied at Westminster Catering College. Whilst he was getting formally trained, he met his now wife, Jools, and they started dating.
After college, he went to France to study French cooking, which placed him in good stead for the apprenticeships which he earned on his return. He was first the apprentice of Antonio Calrucio at his Neal Street restaurant. Next he worked with Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers at the critically acclamied River Cafe. In the three years there, he was spotted by television producers whilst in a documentary about the River Cafe. He received five telephone calls from producers interested in making a television programme with him. Oliver eventually chose Optomen, the people responsible for Two Fat Ladies, which was also shown on BBC2 in the UK.
Oliver's dynamic, yet simple cooking methods which usually includes fresh herbs and olive oil, made the hs series Naked Chef appealing to younger adults, and people who were interested in a fresh new style of cooking. People also tuned in, and still do, to see Oliver and his friends who frequently appear in the show living their busy lives.
A book accompanying his first series, published by Hyperion, is a best seller, and led to further series with Oliver being made called "The Return of the Naked Chef". This series included small scale cooking at home, and featured his beau Jools.
By 1999, Jamie Oliver was asked to prepare lunch for Tony Blair and his guest, the Italian Prime Minister, at 10 Downing Street, London. A year on he married his girlfriend, Jools. On his wedding day, he was awake and cooking with his father and friends at 5am.
Oliver made a third cookery series called "Happy Days with the Naked Chef" and he started touring the UK to promote this series and his books. Around 17,000 people came to see his theatre shows in Cambridge, Bournmouth and London. This was very successful and continued in Australia and New Zealand with shows in another seven cities.
In 2002, Oliver has many jobs. These include:
- Consultant chef at Monte's restaurant in Knightsbridge where he advises on seasonal menus with his friend Ben O'Donoghue.
- Food advisor for Sainsburys for whom he also appears in television adverts and promotional literature.
- Food editor for GQ magazine.
- Food editor for Marie Claire, for whom he writes a monthly article.
- Contributor to the Saturday Times magazine.
Oliver also was involved with creating a range of cookware and tableware for Royal Worcester
As well as his continuing love of food, especially bread and pasta, he has other hobbies which includes riding his motorscooter and playing drums in a band called "Scarlet Division" which he describes as being a mixture of Catatonia and Texas but with a harder edge.
Also in 2002, Oliver launched an ambitious project, to open a professional restaurant staffed by young people who had deprived lifes, which would also be televised for a fly-on-the-wall documentary for Channel 4. The London based restaurant, called Fifteen, proved to be successful in turing out celebrated chefs, despite the odd monetary difficulty. Getting a reservation at the restaurant is quite a challenge in itself. In June the next year Oliver was given a MBE.
Not bad for a man who left school with ony two GCSEs
Jamie Oliver lives in London with his wife Jools and daughters Poppy Honey and Daisy Boo.
Updated 6th February 2004