How do you begin to describe a man who carries so many labels? Is he a chef, a brand, TV personality, businessman, restaurateur, campaigner, or social entrepreneur? The answer is all of them, and more.
A family man first and foremost with a wife and four children, he grew up in Essex, where his parents owned The Cricketers pub. There, from the age of eight, he used the kitchen to practise his culinary skills, developed a fascination with food, and gained a sound knowledge of ingredients.
After training at Westminster Catering College, his big break came at The River Café in 1997, when a TV company picked him up and catapulted him into the limelight as the Naked Chef. A fresh, new style of laid-back TV cooking was born, which grabbed viewers’ attention.
With a love of quality ingredients and punchy flavours, Jamie’s recipes have stayed true to his ‘simple and fresh’ ethos, but have also evolved with the economic times. From the carefree ‘Pukka Pineapple and Bashed Up Mint’ seen in his Happy Days quick-fix-meals, to dependable family classics like ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’ in the Ministry of Food, to a more recent shift to nutritious low-budget recipes like Save with Jamie’s, ‘Happy Frumpy Minestrone’; a social awareness is always present.
Natural progressions have seen him develop from pop-culture figure to leader of social transformations. Awarded an MBE in 2003 for his hospitality industry work, he was then voted ‘Most Inspiring Political Figure of 2005’ by C4 News. Bringing action to his strong beliefs through projects like the ‘Feed Me Better’ campaign, he’s raised a nation’s awareness of food issues, and inspired change.
Along with championing healthy eating initiatives, Jamie opened 37 Italian restaurants, provided training to the disadvantaged through his Fifteen Foundation, had 26 TV shows, 18 cookbooks, a monthly magazine, a YouTube channel, a successful production company, and has lent his name to big brands such as Waitrose.
With diversity and creativity, he’s reached out, shared his love of food, and always remained relevant to those who’ve ‘grown up’ with him.