Jamie Oliver blames jerk rice uproar on ‘quiet news week’ after cultural appropriation claims

'All food is evolution', celebrity chef says

Harry Cockburn
Monday 03 September 2018 23:49 BST
Levi Roots teaches Jamie Oliver how to make jerk chicken

Jamie Oliver has defended his “punchy jerk rice” ready meal after he was accused of cultural appropriation for the name of the dish last month.

The TV chef was criticised for insensitivity because the dish doesn’t contain many of the ingredients traditionally used in a Jamaican jerk marinade, which is normally used to flavour meats rather than rice.

Following a tweet about the dish by Labour MP for Brent, Dawn Butler, in which she said the chef’s branding was “not OK”, the issue gained increased attention, with other celebrity chefs and politicians weighing into the debate.

At the time, Oliver said in a statement: “When I named the rice my intention was only to show where my inspiration came from.”

But speaking on The One Show on Monday he addressed the brouhaha directly, saying: “This is the world we live in. It’s called a quiet news week.”

Asked whether he had witnessed the unfolding media storm, Oliver replied: “I did watch it, almost like a tourist, and I decided to say nothing. In the end you have to kind of nip these things about the bud if they start going in the wrong direction.”

He defended using different ingredients in the recipe to traditional jerk seasonings saying “No-one’s invented nothing. All food is evolution.”

He added: “Many of the things we love and protect as British, aren’t British. Fish and chips are Portuguese. Cumberland sausage? German.

“We’re living in times where people are trying to make us divisive about things and food shouldn’t be one of those things,” he said.

Oliver earlier told Hello! magazine: “I've never written an authentic recipe in my life,” and said “authenticity” is a word which should be used “very carefully as most of the things we love... are not what we think they are”, adding that chicken tikka masala was invented in Britain.

But Jamaica-born chef Levi Roots, who once appeared on TV giving Oliver a class in making jerk chicken, described the product as “a mistake”.

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