James Trevor “Jamie” Oliver, born on 27 May 1975, is a British chef and restaurateur. He is known for his approachable cuisine, which has led him to front numerous television shows and open many restaurants.
Born and raised in Clavering, Essex, he was educated in London before joining Antonio Carluccio’s Neal Street restaurant as a pastry chef. While serving as a sous-chef at the River Café, he was noticed by Patricia Llewellyn of Optomen; and in 1999 the BBC aired his television show, The Naked Chef. This was followed by a first cook book, which became a No. 1 UK bestseller. His television work included a documentary, Jamie’s Kitchen, which gained him an invitation from Prime Minister Tony Blair to visit 11 Downing Street.
In 2005 he opened a campaign, Feed Me Better, to introduce schoolchildren to healthier foods, which was later backed by the government. He was the owner of a restaurant chain, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, which opened its first restaurant, Jamie’s Italian, in Oxford in 2008.
Oliver’s first job was a pastry chef at Antonio Carluccio’s Neal Street restaurant, where he first gained experience at preparing Italian cuisine, and developed a relationship with his mentor Gennaro Contaldo; later in his career Oliver employed Contaldo to help run his collection of high street restaurants, Jamie’s Italian. Oliver moved to The River Café, Fulham, as a sous-chef. He was noticed there by the BBC in 1997, after making an unscripted appearance in a documentary about the restaurant, Christmas at the River Cafe.
In 1999 his BBC show The Naked Chef debuted, and his cookbook became a bestseller in the United Kingdom.
After three series of Naked Chef programmes (The Naked Chef, Return of the Naked Chef & Happy Days with The Naked Chef) for the BBC, Oliver moved to Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, where his first series was a documentary, Jamie’s Kitchen which followed the setting up of Fifteen restaurant in London.
In December 2009 Oliver received the 2010 TED Prize. He hosted Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals on Channel 4, which aired for 40 episodes in 2012.
Oliver is the second-best-selling British author, behind J. K. Rowling, and the best-selling British non-fiction author since records began.
In June 2008, Oliver launched a restaurant, Jamie’s Italian, his first high street business venture, in Oxford, England. At its peak, there were 42 Jamie’s Italian restaurants in the UK. Oliver began a formal campaign to ban unhealthy food in British schools and to get children eating nutritious food instead. Oliver’s efforts to bring radical change to the school meals system, chronicled in the series Jamie’s School Dinners, challenged the junk-food culture by showing schools they could serve healthy, cost-efficient meals that kids enjoyed eating. His efforts brought the subject of school dinners to the political forefront and changed the types of food served in schools.
Oliver’s Ministry of Food campaign began in 2008 with the Channel 4 series of the same name and the opening of the first Ministry of Food Centre in Rotherham.
In December 2009, Oliver was awarded the 2010 TED Prize for his campaigns to “create change on both the individual and governmental levels” to “bring attention to the changes that the English, and now Americans, need to make in their lifestyles and diet”.