James Trevor 'Jamie' Oliver, MBE (born 27 May 1975), frequently nicknamed The Naked Chef, is an English celebrity chef. He is well known for his role in campaigning against processed foods in British schools. Since his early years, his Essex accent, which is often described as "mockney" or "fake cockney, has become infamous - particularly the use of the hindi word "pukka" (colloquially meaning "brilliant" or "solid", originally "cooked" or "ripe"). Oliver is reported to be worth an estimated £25 million.
Wanting to create something positive using his wealth and fame, Oliver conceived and established the Fifteen charity restaurant where he trained 15 disadvantaged young people to work in the hospitality industry. Following the success of the original restaurant in London, more Fifteens have opened around the globe: Fifteen Amsterdam opened in December, 2004, Fifteen Cornwall in Newquay opened in May, 2006, and Fifteen Melbourne opened in September, 2006, with Australian friend and fellow chef, Tobie Puttock. The process of creating and opening the original Fifteen was documented in the series "Jamie's Kitchen".
Next, Oliver began a formal campaign to ban unhealthy food in British schools and get children eating fresh, tasty, nutritious food instead. Oliver's efforts to bring radical change to the school meals system, chronicled in the series "Jamie's School Dinners", challenged the junk food culture by showing schools they could serve healthy, cost-efficient meals that kids enjoyed eating.
In June, 2003, Oliver was appointed an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. He has also written columns for The Times. A great proponent of fresh organic foods, Oliver was named the most influential person in the UK hospitality industry when he topped the inaugural CatererSearch 100 in May 2005. The list placed Oliver higher than Sir Francis Mackay, the then-chairman of the contract catering giant, Compass Group, which Oliver had soundly criticised in "Jamie's School Dinners". In 2006, Oliver dropped to 2nd on the list behind fellow celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
Jamie's Kitchen was a five part 2002 documentary series. It followed chef Jamie Oliver as he attempted to train a group of disadvantaged youth, who would - if they completed the course - be offered jobs at Oliver's new restaurant Fifteen. This was followed by Return to Jamie's Kitchen in 2003.
Jamie's Kitchen Australia was a ten part 2006 television series, similar to Jamie's kitchen, that was based in and aired in Australia.
Jamie's School Dinners (2005) was a four part documentary series. Oliver took responsibility for running the kitchen meals in Kidbrooke School, Greenwich, for a year. Disgusted by the unhealthy fare being served to schoolchildren and the lack of healthy alternatives on offer, Oliver began a campaign to improve the standard of Britain’s school meals. Public awareness was raised, and, subsequent to Oliver's efforts, the UK Government pledged to spend £280m on school dinners (spread over three years). Tony Blair himself acknowledged that this was a result of Oliver's campaign. Following the success of the campaign, Oliver was named "Most Inspiring Political Figure of 2005" in the Channel 4 Political Awards 2006. During the school dinners programme, Oliver's Fifteen London was visited by Bill Clinton. Clinton asked to see Oliver; however, Oliver refused, as Clinton's party had asked for other diners to be removed to make room for their larger-than-agreed-upon group. In episode 2 of Jamie's School Dinners, Clinton's party had 36 show up for a booking of 16 and many of them were on a South Beach Diet and did not want the special menu that had been prepared, even though the menu had been approved in advance.
Jamie's Great Italian Escape, a six part travelogue series, was first broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK in October 2005. It follows Jamie as he travels around Italy in a blue VW van (plus a trailer for cooking). Jamie is about to turn 30, and this is his personal adventure to rediscover his love of cooking.
Jamie's Chef (2007) was a four part series continuing where Jamie's Kitchen left off. Five years and fifty trainees later, Oliver's most recent series aims to help the winning trainee establish their own restaurant at The Cock, a pub near Braintree in Essex. The charitable Fifteen Foundation retains ownership of the property and has provided a £125,000 loan for the winner, Aaron Craze, to refurbish the establishment.
Jamie at Home (2007) featured Jamie presenting home-style recipes and gardening tips, with many ingredients coming from his substantial home garden. Jamie at Home airs on the Food Network in the United States. Due to licensing restrictions, only two recipes from each Jamie at Home episode will appear online; also, access to recipes is limited to users within the United States.
Jamie's Fowl Dinners (2008) A special with Jamie backing Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's "Hugh's Chicken Run" in trying to get the British to eat free-range chickens
Jamie's Ministry of Food (2008), a new four part series currently in production, is based in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Jamie aims to make the town "the culinary capital of the United Kingdom" and wants to get the town's inhabitants to learn how to cook fresh food and establish healthy eating as part of daily life. The 'Pass It On' campaign also features in this series with the local towns people being taught one of a selection of recipes and passing it on to family members and friends. The 'Pass It On' campaign has also gained a following on the social networking website Facebook which has a group and fan page with users signing up to chart their progress. The series will be broadcast in the Autumn of 2008.
He has also made two appearances in the "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car" segment of BBC Two's Top Gear. His first appearance was notorious for his attempt to make a green salad in the back of his Volkswagen Microbus while The Stig drove it around the Top Gear test track.
Oliver is the second British celebrity chef (after Robert Irvine) to appear as a challenger on Iron Chef America, taking on Iron Chef Mario Batali in 2008 in a losing battle with cobia as the theme ingredient.
In 2003, Oliver was ranked number 28 in Channel 4's poll of "100 Worst Britons". The poll was inspired by the BBC series 100 Greatest Britons. The poll specified that the nominees had to be British, alive, and not currently in prison or pending trial.
In 2005, Oliver was widely criticised for slaughtering a fully conscious lamb on his TV show.
In 2005, Jamie Oliver embarked upon his school dinners campaign to improve the quality of food fed to pupils. Whilst the campaign proved to be ultimately successful, at the time it was a highly controversial shake-up for students and parents, some of whom were vocally and actively against the change. In September 2006, Rawmarsh Community School, South Yorkshire, UK, made headlines after a handful of parents revolted against Oliver's lunch plan, in which all 1,100 pupils on site were fed two portions of fruit and three vegetables every day, by delivering food from local shops to the pupils through the school fence. One parent dismissed Oliver's food as "disgusting rubbish" and declared, "Food is cheaper and better at the local takeaways.”