Being a chef must be a terrific job. Sure, it’s stressful and competitive, but at the same time it can be so much fun!
The last few decades have seen the rise of celebrity chefs, those who are famous for their wonderful recipes and charismatic personalities.
One such chef is Jamie Oliver, who’s not only showed the world that he can cook delicious meals, but also decided to campaign for eating healthy, especially where the younger generations are concerned.
These days, Jamie Oliver has been a star chef for years, releasing books, opening restaurants, and appearing on television programs. He’s also a real family man by all accounts.
Jamie is married to his beloved wife Jools, with whom he has five children. Recently, he made a confession about his wife, saying that she has made sure to help him stay humble – and not allowed him to turn into an egocentric celebrity.
Jamie Oliver is probably one of the most popular and successful chefs in the world. Of course, it depends how you look at it, but if the profession is solely measured by making delicious food, he definitely has the No.1 spot in my book.
Jamie Oliver – “The Naked Chef”
He’s been in over 30 successful television series, has released many cook books, and also opened up plenty of restaurants. In fact, he’s even been awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire).
“The Naked Chef” has taught millions of people how to make restaurant-like food at home. But more importantly, Oliver has made sure to help children to eat healthier while in school. It might seem like a small thing from the outside, but in my opinion, this is one of the most honorable and greatest things he has done. Especially so, considering he’s a world star chef and, to be honest, doesn’t need to do such things.
But Jamie Oliver is different, a sort of “chef of the people”. Helping others when you have the opportunity and tools to do it is admirable – and I will always be grateful to him for doing so.
But how did Jamie Oliver even become a chef? Well, it started out very early.
This is his story!
Jamie Oliver was born on May 27, 1975, in Clavering, England.
As a young child, he got introduced to a restaurant kitchen. Oliver’s parents had a restaurant & pub, and he oftentimes worked there, helping out with all different things.
Jamie Oliver – early life
His parents were “working class”, but sometimes, people thought the opposite. Speaking to Flow, Oliver explained that people later in life thought he was raised in a house full of money.
“I grew up a real country boy in Clavering, in the county of Essex, about 18 miles from Cambridge,” he said.
“I have no idea why all these people I met later with my food show The Naked Chef on TV thought I was some privileged rich kid who went to a private school. Actually I was a chubby, thick kid who was so bad at school I needed extra lessons for the simplest things.”
When he was only five years of age, Jamie started helping out around the pub. Even though it was sometimes tough, he quickly learned the importance of a good work ethic from his parents. He washed glasses and chopped vegetables, and already at that point, he was very good at handling knives.
“To be honest, I cooked up some really good grub, even as a kid,” he told Flow.
“But my parents taught me something else really important: a great work ethic and how to treat others with respect and friendliness, and how to stay polite even when you’re stressed and your feet are killing you.
“I sometimes wish my own kids could help their grandparents out now and again, and learn all that. Back then I soon understood: if you want to get anywhere, you have to roll up your sleeves and get on with it.”
Worked at his parents’ restaurant
Jamie Oliver’s parents taught him how to handle and prepare food. According to his mother, Sally Oliver, he was a great asset in the kitchen.
They oftentimes prepared food together, as Jamie stood on a chair to reach the kitchen’s work surface. He made a big mess back then, as he worked with his hands, she explained. That’s something he apparently still loves doing today.
From an early age, he learned the rules of a “commercial kitchen”, Sally recalled.
“We had chefs working in the kitchen who gave easy jobs to him and I think it made him feel really grown up – he thought he was ‘one of the boys’,” she said.
“He grew up aware that it was normal to see men cooking, perhaps unlike other children of his age. The chefs always used to joke and have a laugh with him and I know he really enjoyed it. He also knew that once service began everyone would buckle down and get on with the job.”
Jamie Oliver was a real talent in the kitchen. But as for school, it was another story. Jamie had dyslexia and so endured a very tough time at school. In 2019, he confessed that he left school “resenting education” and said that he felt “angry” towards the concept of revision.
Becoming a television star
At the age of 16, Jamie Oliver attended Westminister Catering College. Food was his passion, and he got great experience working at several big restaurants with great reputations. At the culinary college, Jamie Oliver became one of the best students of his class. It turned out, just as his parents anticipated, he was meant to be a chef.
In 1997, while working at River Café in London, Jamie Oliver’s life changed. He made an unscripted appearance in a BBC documentary, and from that moment on became a television star.
Oliver went on to host the hit cooking show The Naked Chef, and soon, he was publishing cookbooks, as well as opening his own restaurants. He became a real entrepreneur, making millions.
At the same time as Jamie was a huge television star, as well as an award winning chef, he also wanted to make a real difference in the world.
Sure, you can give guests the experience of a lifetime by eating something completely new or revolutionizing, but in a wider perspective, that doesn’t affect others.
Jamie Oliver – fight against obesity
Instead, Jamie started a completely different revolution concerning school children and the things they ate.
In an effort to reduce obesity among kids, the celebrity chef came up with many different ideas for healthy lunches for children. His campaign aims to half childhood obesity in the United Kingdom by 2030.
“Our kids eat in school kitchens 190 days of the year, from the age of four to 16, and we all want the food they eat there to feed their brains. Of course schools are not the only people that need to do their bit to promote child health, but they are uniquely positioned to have a real impact on this issue, as the place that kids go day in, day out,” Jamie Oliver writes on his website.
“I really, truly, fiercely believe that if you do the right thing, in the right way, and if you demand change, then good things happen. If government, business, schools and individuals all come together we can achieve this ambitious goal.”
Jamie Oliver has grown into a worldwide known chef and entrepreneur. But even though his restaurants, books and television shows bring in plenty of income, that’s not the most important thing in life.
Jamie Oliver – family
Jamie has a large family, consisting of his wife Jools and their five children. They sure have helped him in his professional life – but at the same time, he’s a loving husband and father.
Jamie Oliver and Jools were very young when they met for the first time. When they were 17, they were supposed to go on a double date at the movies, but it didn’t end quite as he would’ve expected.
On the way there, Jamie Oliver crashed the car, but luckily, no one was injured.
“She felt sorry for me. She thought, ‘The way he drives, he needs support in life’,” the chef said jokingly on the Chatty Man show.
When they started dating seriously, Jools worked in Japan for several months. Jamie wrote her letters or faxed her every day – and their love blossomed.
In 2000, the couple got married at the All Saints Church in Essex, England. Ever since, the two have been madly in love, and still are to this day.
“Marriage is really hard, you are going to spend a proportion of it not liking your other half and vice versa,” Jamie Oliver told Hello Magazine.
“So I think not holding grudges, being able to move on is really important. Just keeping at it.”
“But I love Jools to bits and I’m really proud of the woman she has become, growing into,” he added. ” I think a lot of women struggle with aging, but I’ve really enjoyed seeing Jools change throughout the years, I really have. She’s definitely my best mate.”
Jools and Oliver have five children, – Poppy, 19, Daisy, 18, Petal, 11, Buddy, 10 and River, 4.
It sure is demanding to be being parents of five, especially considering Jamie’s occupation. At the same time, he’s very keen on not bringing his work home. Jamie has an office in Holloway, London, and rides his moped back to the family home in Highgate every day.
“I tend to keep work and home very, very separate,” Jamie told You. “Which has pros and cons, of course. But mainly pros, I’d say… really it’s much nicer to talk about sports day or what the kids are up to and stuff like that. So I think for us it works. I would call us a normal family.”
Wife Jools ‘controls his ego’
A lot of things have changed since Jools and Jamie first met. The two have both had successful careers, and with a home of five children, there’s plenty going on all the time.
Even though their lives have been bettered as a result of their incomes, in the end, Jools and Oliver are flesh and blood just like everyone else.
“Personally, I’ve absolutely enjoyed watching my wife get older. And she’s 45 in November. I’ve enjoyed my journey with Jools, it’s been great. I definitely think I’m more in love with her now than I was then.”
Being known all around the world comes with plenty of attention. It’s probably hard not to think that you’re the king or queen of the world, and in Jamie’s case, the “best chef in the world.”
Jamie, though, says he won’t ever think that of himself. And that is all thanks to his wife, Jools.
“They keep me in check”
Even though he is famous all around the world, his wife and family have made sure his ego has been kept “in check”.
In fact, his wife and their three daughters have kept his feet to the ground.
“I think we all have to control our egos. I mean, my best way of controlling my ego was just to work with lots of women, to be honest. And I think they keep me in line,” Oliver explained.
“Like, for the last 20 years, we’ve been about 80% ladies in the business, and somehow it’s just worked very well for me,” he added. “And they don’t sit there telling me how great I am all day, let’s just put it that way. They keep me in check, as well as my wife. And now my daughters.”
Meanwhile, the Oliver family have had the pleasure of seeing daughters, sons, brothers and sisters growing up. They’ve also been through some very tough times, though, with Jools having suffered several miscarriages, the latest of which befell them during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Jools & Jamie – miscarriages
“Jamie is still up for [having another child], kind of… not really,” Jools told Hello Magazine in 2020. “I haven’t got long, maybe another year and then I really will just shut that chapter off because I am very happy and I am pretty full up at the moment as it is.”
“But just that little baby, it’s a terrible thing to keep wanting something and you can’t help it,” she added.