After his luxury butcher Barbecoa receives a one-star hygiene rating, is Jamie Oliver's food empire spread too thin?

Media Editor

Having built his £150 million empire on the back of media exposure, Jamie Oliver has learned to accept that whenever his career suffers a minor setback it will be celebrated by the press with a flurry of culinary-themed quips.

Again questions are being asked as to whether Jamie is “trying to keep too many plates spinning” after rogue ingredients, including mould and mouse droppings, were discovered by public health officers in Barbecoa, his luxury butcher in the City of London.

It’s only a few weeks since another newspaper wondered if Jamie had “bitten off more than he can chew”, after the TV chef closed three out of four branches of his British-themed Union Jacks restaurant chain.

But the reality is that Oliver’s business is emerging from the economic downturn in good shape, despite the appetite in the press for his reputation to get burned like those of Gordon Ramsay and Nigella Lawson. The Jamie brand has not yet reached its sell-by date, unlike the Wagyu beef, marrow bone, oxtail, onglet and lomo de caña in the basement chillers at Barbecoa.

His Jamie’s Italian restaurant chain continues to expand and had a turnover of £94 million last year, with profits of £13.2 million. Although the growth of new outlets in the UK (currently at 35) has slowed, expansion is planned into new territories including Australia, Russia, Hong Kong and Brazil.

Jamie Oliver Holdings, which includes the chef’s television and book interests, reported a 13.3 per cent growth in revenue last year, with pre-tax profits up 8.4 per cent to £9.7 million.

At Oliver’s business headquarters in north London, his “diary team” are already filling out his schedule for 2015. This process begins with allocating seven weeks to family holidays. His PR team – part of a core staff of more than 250 – denies that, to use another metaphor from the kitchen, he is spreading himself too thinly. “Jamie is supported by an excellent senior management team, all of whom do everything in their power to ensure quality across the various businesses. There is no question of Jamie being spread too thinly. The management team are there to run the businesses efficiently and effectively.”

Oliver is currently ensconced with his book editor applying the final touches to Comfort Food, his next collection of recipes. He has been working on the publication – his 16th – since September and it will be accompanied by a Channel 4 series that begins filming next month. The TV chef – who famously used television to campaign for healthier food in schools - is fully expecting a backlash from sections of the press over his endorsement of sticky puddings and other stodgy fare. But a row over calories won’t hurt the ratings.

On Friday – the latest of his annual Food Revolution Days - he will try to break a Guinness World Record for the most people cooking simultaneously. The target is a modest couple of thousand but Oliver will attempt to harness the Internet and a global army of schoolchildren to push the record into seven figures.

He recently launched Jamie Oliver’s Drinks Tube channel on YouTube to celebrate cocktails, beers, wine and tea. Backed by prominent product placement of a global drinks brand, it is a sister channel to Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube, which claims to be the largest online food community in Europe with more than 800,000 subscribers.

Despite all this activity, the hygiene failings at Barbecoa butcher’s – which led to a one star out of five rating for cleanliness – will have damaged the adjoining restaurant of the same name. Health inspectors have previously exposed problems at Oliver eateries in London’s Canary Wharf, Leeds, Edinburgh and Portsmouth. Inevitably, each incident has made the media. Oliver will need to spend time with chef Gennaro Contaldo, his partner in Jamie’s Italian, to shore up the reputation of the restaurant business. Sharing a bowl of comfort food won’t be enough. 

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Arts and Entertainment
Ugne, 32, is a Lithuanian bodybuilder
tvThey include a Lithuanian bodybuilder who believes 'cake is a sin' and the Dalai Lama's personal photographer
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon have just launched their new streaming service in the UK
music
News
Frankie Boyle
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Experienced PSV Coach & Minibus Drivers

    £12500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Drivers wanted for a family run...

    Ashdown Group: Finance Manager (FP&A) - Surrey - £45,000

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful leisure company is seek...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionist, Bar and Waiter / Waitress & Housekeeping

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The positions above are available either part ...

    Guru Careers: Fitness Centre Supervisor / Duty Manager

    £25K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Fitness Centre Supervisor / Duty Manager ...

    Day In a Page

    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

    ...but history suggests otherwise
    The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

    The bald truth

    How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
    Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

    Tour de France 2015

    Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
    Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

    A new beginning for supersonic flight?

    Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
    I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

    I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

    Latest on the Labour leadership contest
    Froome seals second Tour de France victory

    Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

    Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
    Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

    The uses of sarcasm

    'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
    A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

    No vanity, but lots of flair

    A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
    Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

    In praise of foraging

    How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food