The Naked Chef Exposed: Jamie Oliver's Endorsement of Garden Produce Is Marred by Hypocrisy

By Cooke, Rachel | New Statesman (1996), August 13, 2007 | Go to article overview

The Naked Chef Exposed: Jamie Oliver's Endorsement of Garden Produce Is Marred by Hypocrisy


Cooke, Rachel, New Statesman (1996)


Jamie at Home

Channel 4

Jamie Oliver has gone back to basics. His new series is filmed at his place in Essex, which looks like a property that Kirstie and Phil of Location, Location, Location would show only to someone seriously loaded: someone, in fact, who had a nice little earner in the form of a series of commercials for Sainsbury's. He has four kitchens inside, plus this season's must-have: a wood-fired oven in the garden. Ah, yes--the garden. This is the star of the series, because it's here that Jamie grows the fruit and veg he is going to cook. In this task, he is helped by his gardener, Brian, who, with his shaggy hair and placid manner, reminds me of Yoffy, the hippie who presented Finger bobs in the Seventies.

In the first programme, Jamie offered Brian a refreshing cup of consomme. "You're experimenting on me again!" smiled Brian, like a grateful druggy who'd just been passed a particularly fine joint. Jamie and Brian love getting high together, only their hit of choice is something juicy from the greenhouse. You should hear them talk tomato varieties. They sound like a right pair of stoners.

The format of Jamie at Home, which is strangely old-fashioned, is supposed to tell us that he means business: "Just cook, will you?" But I suspect it has just as much to do with his past few shows--such as Jamie's School Dinners, in which he campaigned to rid the nation of Turkey Twizzlers--having been so exhausting. For this series, all he had to do was roll out of bed, wander into the garden, pick the ingredients, and cook them. (Ta-dah! as we cooks like to say.) Jamie's verbal tics are as annoying as ever--"Bosh, bosh!" being the one that most makes me want to set about him with my good copper pan--but the recipes, if you can call them that, are perfectly decent. Here's a tomato salad, which can also be a salsa (add coriander) or a pasta sauce (heat and, er, add pasta). Nothing is too onerous because Jamie understands that his audience crucially lacks time and kitchen skills. The only trouble is that, in order to get your hands on as many breeds of tomato as this, you'd basically have to fly to New York so you could visit the uber-posh SoHo deli Dean & DeLuca (this wouldn't be so bad: you could pick up some malted milk balls while you were at it). …

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