TV the main ingredient in Jamie's profit banquet

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The Independent Online

Jamie Oliver and his wife Jools paid themselves more than £2m last year as profits in the business empire of the celebrity chef turned food campaigner rose by a quarter.

Profits at Mr Oliver's two main companies - Sweet as Candy Holdings and Sweet as Candy Limited - were boosted by higher international book and television sales in Asia and Eastern European countries such as Poland. His books have now been translated into 23 languages.

Included in the £2.5m profits notched up by the two companies last year is his continuing contract endorsing J Sainsbury, which is thought to be worth around £1m a year. His earnings from designing a range of saucepans for Tefal and tableware for Royal Worcester also contributed to the results, which will be filed this week.

Mr Oliver, 31, also made more than £230,000 out of Fresh One, his television production company which has made programmes such as Jamie's Kitchen and Jamie's School Dinners. It reported profits of just £80,000 the year before.

Fresh Crush, a new firm launched by Mr Oliver to sell the "Flavour Shaker" kitchen gadget, posted profits of more than £100,000 in its maiden results.

Mr Oliver started his catering career at the age of eight, peeling potatoes at his parents' pub, The Cricketers in Clavering, Essex. While working at the River Café restaurant in west London, he was spotted by Pat Llewelyn, the producer of Two Fat Ladies. Playing on his "cheeky chappie" persona, his television career began with his own show, The Naked Chef.

More recently, he has been campaigning to make school meals healthier. After a high- profile campaign, the Government agreed to increase funding for school dinners by £280m.

He attracted controversy last month when, in a follow-up programme to the television series, he attacked parents for giving their children too much junk food.

"I've spent two years being PC about parents. Now is the time to say, 'If you're giving your young children fizzy drinks, you're an arsehole, you're a tosser. If you give them bags of crisps, you're an idiot. If you aren't cooking them a hot meal, sort it out.' If they truly care, they've got to take control."

This attracted the ire of the shadow education secretary, Boris Johnson, who criticised his hardline stance on school dinners at the Conservative Party conference. "If I was in charge, I would get rid of Jamie Oliver and tell people to eat what they liked. I say, let people eat what they like." Mr Johnson later claimed his remarks had been "over-egged".

Mr Oliver has also set up the "Fifteen" chain of restaurants, which trains disadvantaged young chefs. The flagship Fifteen in Shoreditch, east London, made a loss of £600,000 in 2004, which it reduced to £500,000 last year. The London restaurant - the other three are in Cornwall, Amsterdam and Melbourne - is expected to make a profit this year.

Mr Oliver's spokesman said the chef's profits from his business enterprises this year were expected to be down significantly. This is partly because all the profits from his new book, Cook With Jamie (published earlier this month), will go to the Fifteen Foundation, which owns the four restaurants. The charity has a surplus of £120,000 from a number of fundraising events.

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