Why are they famous: Jamie Oliver

Saturday 08 May 1999 23:02

Main claim

Brit Pack cheflet. Edgy new dude of hip-chop. Television's latest Sabatier- wielding hot property makes Marco-Pierre White look like a grandfather. Fanny Cradock, the boy is not. Jamie Oliver, 23, subtly dubbed the Naked Chef, has somewhat hijacked the world of small-screen cuisine. A world that is either genteel (Delia) or embarrassingly "eccentric" (Gary Rhodes). With Jamie, we're talking contemporary Cockney cool, readers. Yes, swerving cameras, an East London studio, sounds by The Verve, and cheeky vernacular by the cupful. The Naked Chef is attracting 2.5 million viewers and the book is topping the bestseller lists, relegating dowager Delia to the indignity of No 2.


Younger brother of male model. Chubby-faced East End chip- shop fryer with attitude. Likely lad in need of a haircut, wash and condition.

Early riser

While some have been par-boiling for decades, young Jamie had put in a mere soupcon of an apprenticeship before his star quality was spotted at London's famed River Cafe. Take one lad, sprinkle with some clever sexy marketing, add wacky camera angles, and hey presto, a fully-formed superchef is born.

Child genius

Essex-bred Jamie was brought up in a pub. "Jamie wangled his way into the kitchen and by 12 or so he was getting to be pretty useful," explains his father. (Aren't there laws against this sort of thing?) Jamie then did appallingly in his GCSEs and entered catering college. He made pastry at the Neal Street Restaurant, and was rapidly elevated to sous-chef at the River Cafe. Soon after he arrived, a show was filmed at the restaurant, and Jamie's star quality shone clear through the polenta mountains. Damien Hirst meets Liam Gallagher by way of Loaded, and there you have it - one glorious It Boy.

Fame prospects

"I'd like to win a Michelin star but it's unlikely - my cooking just ain't fiddly enough and that's fine by me," explains our hero. Note the ready patois, readers. Smile wryly at the laddish charm. The only way is up. Er, nice one, mate.

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