In a forthcoming Good Housekeeping interview that was excerpted online and has become a bit of a bad-mouthing rant, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver claims that the European restaurant workers at his restaurants are superior to his British kitchen staff. In a typical bout of kids-these-days-style frustration, Oliver dismisses young British cooks as lazy and unmotivated, scoffing, "I have mummies phoning up for 23-year-olds saying to me, ‘My son is too tired.’ On a 48-hour week! Are you having a laugh?"
Oliver goes on to say he worked 100-hour weeks when he was coming up in the industry, and he liked it, too. He then caps that all off by saying young Brits will no doubt someday excel at something, career-wise, but it likely won’t have anything to do with "long hours in hot kitchens." Burn.
Predictably, there’s been something of a backlash. While the TV star has a point about his restaurants relying on immigrant labor — the perennially underrepresented base of the hospitality industry on both sides of the pond — others disagree with Oliver’s assessment of the future. One 19-year-old, who gets up at 5 a.m. each day to balance school and restaurant work, tells the Mirror that the chef’s comments are "ridiculous and mean," and meanwhile, Oliver’s peers are also (unsurprisingly) a little miffed. Chef Antony Worrall Thompson tells the paper that British cooks who turn up at his three restaurants have more passion and creativity in general.
Of course, the outspoken British chef’s platform over the last decade has been all about educating kids and adults alike on the fundamentals of cooking and healthier eating choices. Does the cynicism of his Good Housekeeping comments offset the metaphorical nutritional pyramid of his Food Revolution?
Of course not. If anything, it’s a testament to the high standards he sets for himself and everyone else — not everyone can live up to the chef’s tireless ubiquity. Oliver has 40 restaurants and a Saturday morning TV show coming out Stateside this fall, and in the meantime, the chef’s publisher has just announced it will give away a free copy of his brand-new cookbook, Save With Jamie, to more than 4,000 public libraries in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. In other words, the chef’s workweek is still longer than everyone else’s.
Jamie Oliver’s immigration comments spark sizzling backlash from chefs and diners [Mirror]
Free Jamie cookbook for every UK library [The Bookseller]
Related: Jamie Oliver Hosting Saturday Morning Kids’ Cooking Show on CBS