Oliver, Jamie 1975-
OLIVER, Jamie 1975-
Born May, 1975; married, wife's name Jools; children: Poppy, Daisy Boo. Education: Attended Westminster Catering College. Hobbies and other interests: Drumming.
Office—Fifteen Restaurant, 15 Westland Place, London N1 7LP, England.
Chef, television personality, and author of cookbooks. Neal Street Restaurant, London, England, former head pastry chef; River Café, London, chef. Fifteen (restaurant), London, head chef. Host of television series The Naked Chef and Jamie's Kitchen.
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for Best Feature, 2001, for The Naked Chef (television series).
The Naked Chef, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2000.
The Return of the Naked Chef, Michael Joseph (London, England), 2000.
The Naked Chef Takes Off, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.
Happy Days with the Naked Chef, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.
Jamie's Kitchen: A Complete Cooking Course, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.
Books have been translated into eleven languages.
Jamie Oliver stands out among the latest generation of celebrity chefs as young, hip, energetic, and accessible. In 2000 Oliver was named one of the sexiest men alive by People magazine, and, according to Judith Sutton in her Library Journal review of The Naked Chef Takes Off, "he's practically become a household name." Known as "the Naked Chef" to Food Network viewers, Oliver explained in his Web site biography that "the idea behind The Naked Chef was to strip food down to its bare essentials—to prove that you didn't need to dress up ingredients or buy a load of fancy gadgets to make something really tasty." He advocates adapting recipes to what one has in one's own cupboard, refrigerator, or garden.
Although Oliver worked his way into London's culinary upper echelon, his popularity has come in large part from his down-to-earth approach; a reviewer for Publishers Weekly in a review of Happy Days with the Naked Chef noted: "perhaps never has a personality cookbook ranged so far across high and not-so-high cuisine." Oliver writes in a breezy, colloquial tone that puts readers at ease, though his instructions may strike some novice cooks as too vague. With them in mind he includes, in Happy Days with the Naked Chef, a chapter of "quick fixes" that involve minimal preparation and cleanup. Reviewing The Naked Chef, a Publishers Weekly contributor concluded that "Oliver delivers a hip classic that will appeal to a new generation of modern epicureans who face the challenge of cooking within the confines of tiny urban kitchens on time-pressed schedules."
Oliver began his fascination with cooking while working summers and weekends in his parents' pub-restaurant, The Cricketers, in Clavering, Essex, England. He left school at age sixteen to attend Westminster Catering College, then spent time working in France; he returned to London to work as head pastry chef at the Neal Street Restaurant under Antonio Carlucci. It was at his next position, at the River Café, that Oliver was discovered. As the chef described on his Web site, "a documentary about the restaurant was being filmed and the editors decided to show a lot of this cheeky kid who was so into the cooking that he'd answer back to the crew—telling them to get out of the way, or whatever." The day after the documentary aired, five different producers contacted Oliver about a possible new television show. The series The Naked Chef eventually aired on the British Broadcasting Corporation and met with great success. Licensed to more than fifty countries, the show gained popularity in the United States on the Food Network.
In addition to his televised cooking series, Oliver has created Jamie's Kitchen, a multi-part television documentary that "follows Oliver as he fulfills his dream of opening his own restaurant, Fifteen, as he trains fifteen young, unemployed Londoners to be chefs in this nonprofit restaurant," according to Debra Johnson in Variety. In January of 2003, Fifteen was nominated for the Tio Pepe Carlton Ondon Restaurant Award. Oliver has hoped to make a lasting contribution by serving as a mentor to other young chefs, and he hoped to create several more restaurants on the Fifteen model.
Oliver's Web site, with 180,000 hits per month, is the most popular food Web site in the United Kingdom. In addition to recipes, it includes a diary that keeps fans up-to-date on Oliver's work, travels, and weekend plans.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Library Journal, August, 2000, Judith Sutton, review of The Naked Chef, p. 145; August, 2001, Judith Sutton, review of The Naked Chef Takes Off, p. 150; October 15, 2002, Judith Sutton, review of Happy Days with the Naked Chef, p. 90.
People, August 6, 2001, Max Alexander, review of Happy Days with the Naked Chef, p. 53.
Publishers Weekly, September 18, 2000, review of The Naked Chef, p. 145; October 7, 2002, review of Happy Days with the Naked Chef, p. 69.
Variety, February 3, 2003, Debra Johnson, Naked Truth about Chef Oliver, p. 28.
Jamie Oliver Web site,http://www.jamieoliver.com (November 14, 1999).*