We chat with Jamie Oliver

December 22, 2014 Nina Hearne
Jamie Oliver

Hot on the heels of the announcement that Jamie Oliver will open a restaurant in Bali next year, we had a chat to our favourite celeb chef to find out more about his plan.

The proposed restaurant is part of the Jamie’s Italian group of family restaurants, and will open its doors on the shores of Kuta Beach. Work has already begun to find the best producers and suppliers of fresh sustainable ingredients on the island and Jamie’s pumped.

Hi Jamie!

A restaurant on the Island of the Gods – we’re excited!
That’s right! I can’t quite believe that we have a restaurant opening in Bali, it’s really exciting. The restaurant will be right next to the Hard Rock Hotel, just off Kuta Beach. It’s an interesting one for us because a lot of our guests will be tourists as well as locals but we just want to create something really fun with a great vibe.

Jamie’s Italian is in Hong Kong and Singapore so far, how’s that working out?
Singapore has been open for a year and a half and Hong Kong has been open for six months. Both restaurants are doing really well and we’ve had fantastic feedback from our diners. I’m so proud of both of the teams. I visited Singapore in the Spring and it was brilliant to be able to meet all the chefs and the front of house team. They’re doing a fantastic job.

Why did you choose Italian cuisine to launch into Asia?
Jamie’s Italian was the natural choice for us when we decided to open in Asia for two reasons. The first is that Italian food is universally loved. It’s simple, tasty and it’s hugely enjoyable to eat. Secondly, we already had a number of Jamie’s Italians in the UK and overseas and over the last few years we’ve built up a strong, knowledgeable team that I trust implicitly to open and support new restaurants. My UK team works very closely with the teams in Singapore and Hong Kong and it seems to work very well.

What do you like most about Asian cuisine and culture?
I love the diversity and regionality of Asian food. You could eat a different dish for every meal throughout your life and I doubt you’d try everything. I love the beautiful delicate layering of flavours too. The most simple looking dishes can be mindblowing.

Can we expect an Asian oriented cookbook or TV series soon?
I’d love to and I know it would be something I’d find really interesting but at the moment I just don’t have the time. When I write a book it’s something that I throw myself into completely. If I were to write a book about Asian cooking I’d want to be there; travelling, tasting everything, meeting people and just becoming really immersed in the culture and at the moment I sadly don’t have the time. Never say never though.

Jamie action shot

Any plans to expand the Fifteen foundation into Asia?
I’d love to do a few more Fifteens but it’s a complex project. We have to fundraise hard every year because it costs £30k to support each apprentice through the programme – which is a lot of money. However when you see the apprentices graduate, and start their chef career for the first time that amount justifies itself. We also know that the programme delivers a big social return. For every £1 invested in the programme, £9.50 of social value is returned.

What’s in your home fridge at the moment?
All sorts as we’ve stocked it up for Christmas. I always really encourage people to prepare for the festive seasons to ensure no last minute panics. Christmas Day should be about enjoying the festivities with a glass of wine in your hand rather than running around in the kitchen and I promise, with a bit of preparation, it can happen!

Which chef do you most admire right now?
There’s a fantastic restaurant in Shoreditch in East London called Lyles. It’s run by an incredibly talented young chef called James Lowe.

Your all time favourite meal Jamie?
I’d probably say penne arrabbiata with lots of different kinds of chilli.

Where will you be Christmas Day this year?
At home with lots of family and friends. It will be completely chaotic and mad with kids running everywhere but it’s brilliant fun.

Your happiest moment of 2014?
Food Revolution Day was an incredible day this year. We had 237,822 participants in 121 different counties, all getting involved with cooking from scratch and sharing cooking skills and food knowledge. I really feel confident that we can grow that number next year.

Thanks Jamie!

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