Jamie Oliver

12 May 2005
Jamie Oliver

Overall ranking: 1

Chef ranking: 1


Career guide

Born in May 1975, Oliver showed an early passion for food and by the age of eight, was working in the kitchens of his parents' pub-restaurant, the Cricketers in the Essex village of Clavering. He racked up some outside experience at the Star in Great Dunmow before enrolling at Westminster Catering College at 16.

After a stint in France, Oliver landed the role of head pastry chef at Antonio Carluccio's Neal Streat restaurant for a year. He then worked as senior sous chef at the River Café for three-and-a-half years, where he was 'discovered' in 1997 in a TV documentary on the London restaurant.

So began a successful career in the public spotlight as a TV chef, author, and a columnist for GQ and the Saturday Times magazine - not to mention an advertising deal that made Oliver the public face of supermarket giant Sainsbury.

Back on the shop floor, Oliver acted as a chef-consultant for London private members club Monte's for two-and-a-half years until mid-2002. In November of the same year he opened his first restaurant Fifteen in London's Hoxton region. A second training restaurant, Bambino, opened in Amsterdam in December 2004.

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver

What we think

Oliver's star quality was spotted when he was just 21 in a 1997 documentary on London's River Café. The day after it was televised, Oliver was deluged with calls from five production companies and thus was born the Naked Chef.

His informal and hands-on approach, which stripped food down to its bare essentials, made cooking fun and accessible to millions. A 2004 report from Mintel named Oliver, along with Delia Smith and Nigella Lawson, as the most significant influences on the nation's cooking habits.

However, three series of the Naked Chef in tandem with the Sainsbury's ads threatened to jade the public's appetite for Oliver. But his currency as a ratings-booster was revived with his next project, Jamie's Kitchen, which charted his six-month struggle to convert a derelict building in Hoxton into a 70-seat restaurant manned by 15 unemployed youngsters who had taken a crash course in cooking.

Fifteen was not to make a profit (of around £400,000) until 2004 but Oliver's media work, along with the tableware and cookware lines he helped develop with Royal Worcester and Tefal, helped him double his personal fortune to £20m in the same year, when he appeared in the Sunday Times list of the UK's 100 richest young people and in the top 25 of the City and Guilds Vocational Rich List.

An outspoken critic of outsourced school dinners - which he once described as "terrible" and "rubbish", Oliver has backed up his pronouncements with action and worked with Kidbrooke Secondary School in the London borough of Greenwich to wean the pupils onto a healthier diet. The TV series Jamie's School Dinners and ensuing petition pressured the Government into putting an extra £280m into the school meals pot and, according to a YouGov poll, persuaded 25% of parents who watched the show to stop serving junk food at home.

Further reading

Latest news on Jamie Oliver >>

Jamie Oliver website >>

Jamie Oliver recipes >>

Fifteen - Jamie Oliver's restaurants >>

Jamie's School Dinners >>

Feed Me Better - Jamie Oliver's school meals campaign >>

Jamie Oliver - wikipedia Profile >>

Buy Jamie Oliver's recipe books >>

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