For the most part, I could take or leave Jamie Oliver. I realize many people like him, but I’m mostly meh on him. I want to say that he’s “preachy,” but that’s not really the right word. He’s sort of in the archetype of the hipster dad who gives his kids twee names and is obsessed with everything being “natural,” and I’m just not into it. Different strokes, etc. Anyway, Jamie covers the new issue of Good Housekeeping UK, and I did find his interview pretty interesting. He talks openly about how Brexit is going to do serious damage to the British restaurant industry and how his older daughters watched their baby brother being born (because it was an all-natural home birth). Some highlights:
He’s now 41 years old: “I would like to be 30 forever, although I quite like being 41. Dare I say it, I don’t think I’m a vain person, but I quite like how I feel and look. I am fitter than I’ve been in recent years. I am back in the game now! I am aware of getting old, though, and a little bit aware of my cheese-grater forehead when I concentrate. I’m definitely thinking about my mortality, but it’s only bringing out positive things.”
He’s never touched Botox, but he did have his first manicure: “I thought it was just for girls, but I loved it. My hands were massaged and I felt like a cat.”
He knows women feel more pressure as they age: “It’s harder for women than it is for me. But if you Google Jamie Oliver images, it’s a comedy show. Those haircuts! I was 23 when I started The Naked Chef. I’m 41 now. I don’t feel the pressure, but I am constantly reminded that I have grown up on TV.”
His thoughts on Brexit: “If it affects me, it will affect every restaurant and every farm and everyone in the food industry, which is the biggest industry on the planet.” He says Brexit will make it even harder for restaurants to find workers. “We are constantly short-staffed. We haven’t got queues of people wanting jobs. We haven’t got enough chefs. It’s an impossibility that Britain can function without European staff. As far as I’m told by the Government, it is going to be law that every restaurant has to have apprenticeships, which is kind of cute and nice, but you can’t force it if there is no one who wants it.”
The home birth of son River Rocket three months ago: “As soon as the baby was out and safe, we got the nod – [my daughter Poppy Honey Rosie] cut the umbilical cord! To see my two teenagers watch their mum [Jools] was extraordinary. It was the right age for them, the right scenario for us, and I witnessed their initial raw emotion as the little one was handed to them. I know they respect their mum now even more than they already did. It was an amazing show of strength. It’s only controversial to really strange people! Most of the world has home births, and different countries have different habits. It was an idea from Mum and the kids, and we gave it lots of thought.”
I’m not going to wade into the home birth debate – it’s a choice every woman should make for herself, and it seems clear that Jamie’s wife was the one who decided to do a home birth, etc. I don’t even have a problem with the older daughters watching their mom give birth, mostly because I think that’s the kind of scarring experience which will keep them from having sex until they’re in their 20s. The real key to abstinence is brutal and full education about the mechanics of childbirth, I’ve always thought. That being said, having your teenage daughter cut the cord? That’s sort of a step too far, just my opinion.
As for what he says about Brexit and how it will affect the British restaurant industry… that’s interesting. I believe him. He owns an Italian restaurant chain in Britain, plus several restaurants in London, and he employs many EU workers, including foreign chefs. Apparently, Britain is facing a major drought of culinary talent when Brexit comes through, although it’s a mixed bag. Eater had an interesting story about it here. The whole thing sounds like a giant mess.
Cover courtesy of Good Housekeeping UK, additional photos courtesy of WENN.