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"I could have gone bankrupt." 7 things we learnt from Jamie Oliver: The Naked Chef Bares All.

With a two-decade-long career in the food industry, Jamie Oliver has essentially grown up in front of cameras.

Starting off as the cheeky, 23-year-old ‘Naked Chef,’ he’s now a 44-year-old father-of-five.

But his legacy hasn’t been without controversy.

Despite his best-selling cookbooks, campaign to end childhood obesity, and what was once a net worth of AU$442 million, earlier this year in May it was revealed that his restaurant chain had been put into administration. Over 1000 staff members lost their jobs.

Jamie Oliver shares his secret to perfect potatoes. Post continues below.

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This was recently explored in the documentary Jamie Oliver: The Naked Chef Bares All, which aired on Channel 10 on Thursday night. The hour-long programme featured lengthy interviews from Jamie, his parents, Sally and Trevor Oliver, as well as his wife, collaborators and friends.

From his feud with Marco Pierre White to details of his 19-year marriage to wife Jools Oliver, this is what we learnt from the documentary.

1. Jamie went from being at the bottom of the class to getting distinctions in college.

Featuring prominently in the documentary, Jamie’s parents said his dyslexia impacted his schooling career.

“I left school resenting education so much,” remembered Jamie.

“I felt angry towards the concept of revision.”

 

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Things started changing when he began culinary college, where he excelled.

“It was such a relief to start getting good marks,” joked Jamie.

2. Jamie’s first time on TV was a semi-fluke.

During the Christmas of 1997, the BBC produced a Christmas special inside the kitchens at London’s The River Cafe, and Jamie had begun working there as a sous chef a year earlier.

Initially, Jamie was meant to be enjoying a rare day off from the kitchen, but his stellar work ethic got the better of him.

“I remember because me and Jools hadn’t had a night off together in so long. And the phone call went, and she could read the phone call and was like ‘don’t do it,'” he said.

“My dad taught me to treat other people’s business like our own family business, so the only answer was yes. I was always going to go in.”

Speaking about his first stint in front of cameras, Jamie admits it wasn’t exactly love at first sight.

“They kept asking a load of questions, and to be honest, they were getting on my nerves,” he joked.

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Alas, this short segment would go on to launch his career.

3. We learnt how Jamie Oliver got his name ‘The Naked Chef’.

We can thank television producer, Ben Adler for this moniker.

In an unaired pilot of what would become Jamie’s cooking show, the then 23-year-old said the phrase, “Stripping down restaurant food to the bare essentials,” inspiring what Ben told cameras was his “proudest moment in television”.

However, while the story behind the name was relatively simple – that Jamie strips recipes bare, so to speak – it didn’t exactly paint the whole picture.

“Here was this beautiful young man, who looked like Mick Jagger, who’s going to be cooking food. Who’s not going to want to see him naked?” joked Ben.

And look, this wasn’t exactly a lie. In 2000 People even dubbed him as the “sexiest chef,” and there’s an archived magazine spread to prove it.

 

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4. Jamie and his wife, Jools have been together since high school.

As their love story goes, Jools met Jamie as she started sixth form (the UK equivalent of our Year 12), with him leaving high school at the age of 16.

“I did think [he was] nice-looking, alright. And then he came back again and I thought, ‘this guy is really popular, I must have a slice of that,'” she said of her now-husband.

“And then of course I made it my aim, and then we just got together. We never broken up, always stayed together.”

“He’s always on the go, and if he’s not on the go, he’s asleep,” she joked of their relationship.

 

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They got married in 2000, and are set to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary next year (they already have plans to renew their vows).

The couple also share five children together – River, 3, Buddy, 9, Petal, 10, Daisy, 16 and Poppy, 17.

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5. Jamie hadn’t read a book before he wrote his first cookbook.

“As a dyslexic, I’m not going to write a book,” joked Jamie.

Instead, he did it his own way. Jamie used a dictaphone to record himself annotating every recipe and chapter, before they were transcribed by his receptionist, Corinne.

It worked.

His first book, The Naked Chef Bares All, completely exceeded his publisher’s expectations and the book made him a millionaire. To date, he’s sold the second-largest amount of books in the UK, bested only by the author of the Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling.

 

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6. Jamie re-mortgaged his house to start up his restaurant chain, Fifteen. And he didn’t tell his wife.

During the construction of his first charity restaurant, Jamie was running out of money. His first London restaurant venture, Jamie wanted to train disadvantaged young people to work in the hospitality industry, however, he was worried his venture wouldn’t attract any customers.

“We were over budget so I’d run out of money,” he said.

“There was like three weeks when theoretically I could have gone bankrupt.”

“But It was only because I got a royalty cheque from Penguin that I was back in the green again.”

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It was a close call but his gamble paid off. To date, the Fifteen Foundation has opened restaurants in London, Amsterdam, Cornwall and Melbourne. Today, the Cornwall branch is still in operation and has gone on to train over 300 disadvantaged youth.

“It taught me that anything was possible and everyone can change. That affected me forever,” said Jamie.

7. Jamie has had a long-time feud with fellow chef, Marco Pierre White.

It’s difficult to trace the beginning of their feud, but it’s definitely still going.

Despite being Jamie’s childhood hero, Marco has previously publicly dubbed Jamie as a “fat chef with a drum kit.” Jamie retaliated, calling him a “psychological bully”.

And Jamie is still pretty adamant about his feelings towards his former idol.

“We don’t really get on. Which is quite tough. I know he thinks I’m a wanker, and the feeling is pretty mutual,” he said in the documentary.

“That’s one of the hardest things to accept on the journey, that your heroes won’t like you.”

 

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