Jamie Oliver interview

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Transcript of Jamie Oliver interview

  • omnivore La cuisine nu

    44 metropolitan metropolitan 4 5

    n ic e g u ys f i n i s h l a s t ? no t ja m i e ol i v e r . t h e on e-t i m e na k e d c h e f t u r n e d

    c u l i na ry c ru sa de r ta l k s s uc c e s s , t h e f l i p s i de of s u dde n fa m e , a n d h i s

    b e e f w i t h a c e rta i n f r e nc h c h e f / L e s g e n t i L s f i n i s s e n t t o u j o u r s d e r n i e r s ?

    Pa s ja m i e o L i v e r . La nc i e n na k e d c h e f d s o r m a i s c ro i s d e L a b on n e b o u f f e

    Pa r L e r u s s i t e , c L b r i t e t q u e r e L L e av e c u n c e rta i n c h e f f r a n a i s

    on a rol lSuper Jamie

    Hes game for a laugh, Jamie Oliver. Not every star chef would pose for photos

    sporting breadstick fingers. Five minutes into our interview, though, he suddenly gets serious. Look, he says. Whether you like me or not, whether you find me annoying, theoretically you should trust me. Because I havent been erratic, I havent done something I said I wouldnt do. I think Ive been pretty consistent over the last 17 years.

    At 40, Oliver is one of Britains biggest chefs. Hes sold 37 million books worldwide, and shot

    Jamie Oliver a le sens de lhumour : tous les chefs star naccepteraient pas de poser

    avec des gressins en guise de doigts. Au bout de cinq minutes, toutefois, il redevient srieux. coutez, dit-il, quon maime ou pas, mme si on me trouve agaant, on peut me faire confiance. Je nai pas dvi, si jai dit que je ne voulais pas faire quelque chose, je ne lai pas fait. Je crois que jai t assez cohrent au cours des 17 dernires annes.

    40 ans, cest lun des plus grands chefs bri-tanniques. Ses livres se vendent dans 120 pays, il

    FREN

    mark harrisonElizabEth Winding

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    omnivore La cuisine nu

    over 24 TV series; his online Foodtube channel has 1.6 million followers, and his restaurants dot the globe. Hes also become a passionate campaigner on food issues, famously fighting to improve the UKs dis-mal school dinners and banish the Turkey Twizzler (implausible spirals of processed meat, in a lurid orange crumb).

    Hes come a long way since his big break back in 1997, when a TV crew turned up to film at Londons River Cafe. Oliver wasnt even meant to be at work, but someone had called in sick; young, cheeky and a dab hand with the pasta, he blithely stole the show. His own series soon followed, enti-tled The Naked Chef though with his tousled curls and scooter, he seemed more like a boyband pin-up. I was an object! he protests, in mock indignation. I was taken advantage of! Is it true the produc-ers made his girlfriend (now his wife) hide during filming in the flat? He nods. It was quite funny; Jools wasnt allowed to exist.

    At 23 he was suddenly a celebrity chef, though hed already been cooking for years; he grew up in his parents pub in Essex, helping out in the kitchen. The success of The Naked Chef, though, took everyone by surprise, as did his debut recipe book, which became a global best-seller. At that age, he says, frowning, it was all a bit weird. My dad had never earned an easy quid; all of a sudden I became a millionaire within a year. Fifteen was my way of dealing with that.

    Fifteen, where weve met today, remains dear to Olivers heart; the not-for-profit restaurant that unleashed his campaigning streak. Opened in 2002, it takes on young people from difficult backgrounds, training them up for careers in professional kitchens. From the start,

    a fait 22 missions TV. Il a une chane en ligne, Food Tube, qui compte 1,6 millions dabonns et des restaurants sur tout le globe. Il est aussi militant pour une ali-mentation saine et se bat pour amliorer les dsastreuses cantines scolaires et inter-dire les Turkey Twizzler (improbables spi-rales de sous-produits de viande en panure orange vif).

    Il a fait du chemin depuis sa rvlation en 1997, quand une quipe tl dbarque au River Caf Londres. Ce jour-l, il nest pas cens travailler mais un autre chef est malade. Jeune, impertinent et dou pour prparer les ptes, il vole la vedette. Sa propre mission, The Naked Chef, suit sans tarder. Avec sa tignasse boucle et son scooter, il semble sorti dun boys band. Jtais un objet, proteste-t-il, fausse-ment indign. On ma exploit ! Est-il vrai que les producteurs demandaient sa copine (maintenant sa femme) de se cacher

    w h e t h e r you

    l i k e m e or no t,

    you s hou l d t ru s t

    m e . b e c au s e i

    h av e n t b e e n

    e r r at ic , i

    h av e n t d on e

    s om e t h i ng i sa i d

    i wou l dn t d o

    pour filmer chez lui ? Il acquiesce. Ctait comique. Jools ne devait pas exister.

    23 ans, la clbrit lui tombe dessus. Mais il a dj plusieurs annes dexp-rience : dans le pub de ses parents dans lEssex, o il a grandi, il aidait en cuisine. Ceci dit, le succs de Naked Chef surprend tout le monde et son premier livre de recettes est un best-seller international. mon ge, dit-il en grimaant, ctait bizarre. Mon pre a toujours travaill dur pour gagner chaque sou et en un an, tout dun coup, jtais millionnaire. Pour assu-mer, jai mont Fifteen.

    Fifteen, o nous nous rencontrons aujourdhui, reste cher son cur. Cest le restaurant but non lucratif qui a suscit son engagement social. Ouvert en 2002, il embauche des jeunes de milieux dfavori-ss pour les former des carrires en cui-sine. Ds le dpart, le risque financier est norme car le cursus de chaque recrue

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    the project was a huge financial risk, cost-ing 30,000 to put each recruit through the programme. My dad told me I was an idiot, he says. We nearly fell out over it.

    Others saw Fifteen as a cynical piece of strategy: do-gooding with TV cameras in tow to boost his popularity. (By then, its true, Jamie-hating had become quite fashionable, thanks to his TV ubiquity and lucrative Sainsburys ads.)

    Thirteen years down the line, he feels hes been vindicated. The years weve been doing it, the cost, the aggro: no one could put that face on. His pride in his protgs is tangible: Ive probably got 13 ex-students now who are better at cook-ing than me, which is just amazing.

    Conversation turns to Paris version of Fifteen, Le Quinzime which, it tran-spires, is something of a sore point. Oliver agreed that chef Cyril Lignac could bor-row the format, only for the latter to turn

    on him in the press. I was a little upset that someone who hasnt bettered what Ive done [at Fifteen], who has never met me, would have anything bad to say. So I have a feeling he is a bit of a pr***.

    I have a final question for Oliver, to his poor PRs despair. (Throughout proceed-ings, shes heroically tried to keep him on schedule, reminding us how much time is left 10 minutes! Two! then resorting to frantic signals. Oliver, how-ever, is far too nice to walk away.)

    So what would he be doing now, if it hadnt been for that fateful day at the River Cafe? Hes got a pretty good idea. There was a lovely old pub near Cambridge called the Tickell Arms; I fell in love with it, and was trying to get the lease when all this began. Id have ended up there, with 60 covers, in the middle of the country-side. And he adds a little wistfully, per-haps Id be as happy as Larry.

    cote 30 000 livres. Mon pre ma dit que jtais idiot. On a failli se brouiller.

    Dautres ont vu Fifteen comme une manuvre cynique : faire le gentil devant les camras pour booster sa popularit. lpoque, cest vrai, il tait de bon ton de dtester Jamie cause de son omnipr-sence la tlvision et de ses lucratives pubs pour Sainsbury.

    Treize ans aprs, il se sent lgitim. Tout le temps que jy ai consacr, le cot, les critiques incessantes : impossible de supporter cela sans tre sincre. Sa fiert vis vis de ses protgs est palpable : Jai 13 ex-stagiaires qui cuisinent mieux que moi maintenant, cest gnial.

    La conversation en vient la version parisienne de Fifteen, Le Quinzime. Le sujet est sensible. Oliver a consenti ce que Cyril Lignac emprunte le format et en guise de merci, celui-ci a dit du mal de lui dans la presse. Jtais assez choqu quun type qui na pas amlior ce que jai fait [avec Fifteen], qui ne ma jamais rencon-tr, se permette de me critiquer. Je pense que cest un c***.

    Jai une dernire question, au grand dsespoir de lattache de presse (qui a tent de lui faire respecter lemploi du temps en faisant un compte rebours dix minutes ! Deux mais Jamie est trop gentil pour sen aller).

    Alors, que ferait-il aujourdhui, si cette journe au River Caf navait jamais eu lieu ? Il a une petite ide : Il y avait un vieux pub adorable prs de Cambridge, The Tickell Arms. Jtais sous le charme et jessayais dobtenir le bail quand tout a commenc. Jaurais fini l, avec 60 cou-verts, en rase campagne. Et ajoute-t-il, un brin mlancolique, jaurais t heureux comme tout.

    i l ta i t de

    b on t on de

    d t e s t e r ja m i e

    c au s e de s on

    om n i pr s e nc e

    l a t l v i s ion e t

    de s e s luc r at i v e s

    pu b l ic i t s p ou r

    sa i n s bu ry