I'm So Busy, I Can't Enjoy My Family. Restaurants, Books, TV Shows, [Euro]8m a Year - but If JAMIE OLIVER Takes His Foot off the Gas, He's Afraid It Could All Go a Bit Gordon Ramsay. by Rebecca Hardy
Byline: JAMIE OLIVER
jamie Oliver's wife, Jools, wants to renew their wedding vows next year. He's not too sure; says he finds the whole thing 'a bit embarrassing', but at least it helps to remind him that their 10th wedding anniversary is coming up. Or is it their ninth? Jamie's not sure about that, either. Truth is, he doesn't know if he's coming or going, and he looks knackered.
But then he does have a lot going on at the moment: he has a TV series, Jamie's American Road Trip, and a cookbook, Jamie's America, to promote; five restaurants to manage; a mail-order business to run; politicians to schmooze; presidents to cater to. Oh, and there's also his family to care for: Jools and the children, Poppy, seven; Daisy, six, and sixmonth-old Petal. Jamie and his wife carve up childcare so that Jools has a couple of days' R& R a week. The weekend is Jamie's shift.
Is he up to it? 'I used to work seven days a week until Poppy was born,' he says.
'Then Jools said, "Right, Monday to Friday are yours; the weekend's mine." Anyone looking after three kids knows it's hard. Being rich makes it easier.'
And Jamie is very, very rich, having almost doubled his company's pretax profits last year from [euro]4.2m to [euro]7.8m. But, even with all his wealth, children are a handful.
'They're still kicking off left, right and centre,' he says.
'I'm absolutely in love with my girls. I never dreamed I could love anything this strongly. Six and seven is an insane age. You talk to them like a best friend. You can have inspiration, tranquillity and the happiest minute of your life, but you're only 15 seconds away from carnage.'
It sounds exhausting. And what about Jools? When does he slot her in? 'Like any married couple, not enough,' he says.
'Jools is breastfeeding at the moment, so in a month or two we should get some nice nights.'
Not much time for passion, then? 'I think we're fairly romantic considering we've been married for 10 years,' he says, colouring slightly before adding, 'You need time without kids jumping all over you, don't you?' Jamie is nothing if not honest. He has given 110 per cent to building the Jamie Oliver brand, and is passionate about re-educating people about their eating habits through projects such as School Dinners and the Ministry of Food. His workload, though, is enough to send any wife diving for comfort food. During the filming of Jamie's School Dinners in 2005, we saw Jools cry and shout at her husband when a newspaper reporter claimed, falsely, he'd slept with a waitress. She's since been ridiculed for insisting in an interview that he'd never cheat on her - and there was speculation that the marriage was in crisis.
'That waitress story came out of nowhere,' he says.
'Since then, Jools has said, "I'm not doing any more telly, because every time I'm on, I cry or b*****k you." We're a normal couple. We get on each other's wick every day for a few hours, and love each other every day for a few hours.
Jamie, 34, met Jools, a former model, in 1993 and they married seven years later.
'It took me a long time to get Jools. I'd had a few girlfriends before, but I was a late starter - 16 or something. I love girls but they weren't very interested in me. I was never good with them. Every time I opened my gob, I sounded like Scooby Doo. I never had the b*****ks to ask them out. I had to go through their friends for months before I could pluck up the courage to ask for a date. I used to write down what I wanted to say on dates, so I wasn't really a comfortable boyfriend.
'When I asked Jools out, I tripped over a kerb.
Luckily, she said yes and I was round the next day. I thought she was great, brilliant, beautiful, peachy, lovely, sensible, nice - a gorgeous girl. She just wanted to be a mother and that was it. I didn't understand at all. Why would you want to be a mother? …