Jamie Oliver

Is chef Jamie Oliver right to speak out against ‘lazy young Brits’ …?

There’s a fine line if you are a millionaire who has made his money from the great British public between saying something controversial and saying something that actually reveals something about you that is jolly distasteful. Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver clearly believes he is so amazing – and has so much influence over everyone – that he can say whatever he wants and get away with it.

Thus, as his new TV cooking show, C4 Jamie’s Money Saving Meals, is about to begin and we are sure there must be a book he’s promoting to go with that, he has come out with an attack on ‘lazy young British workers’ saying immigrants work harder. “British kids particularly, I have never seen anything so wet behind the ears,” he moans, “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?
“I think our European immigrant friends are much stronger, much tougher. If we didn’t have any, all of my restaurants would close tomorrow. There wouldn’t be any Brits to replace them.”

A rather sweeping statement perhaps to lump every young British person as ‘wet behind the ears.’ But there is more – apparently in the UK we don’t work long enough hours. He continues: “The average working hours in a week was 80 to 100 – that was really normal in my 20s. But the EU regulation now is 48 hours, which is half a week’s work for me. And they still whinge about it!”

Presumably Jamie Oliver can afford a top publicist on his millions. But why that publicist allowed him – or thought it were a good idea – to make these sort of racist and really quite repugnant remarks beggars belief. After all, pitching immigrants versus other young Brits is hardly conducive to good staff relations. Certainly it appears if you are a young white Brit you wouldn’t stand a chance getting a job with Jamie Oliver as he appears to have already made up his mind that you wouldn’t be tough enough.

Meanwhile, at the same time, he comes over as a mean and unpleasant man to work for who exploits those immigrants who presumably work such long hours for him (while raking in millions) and also as someone entirely out of touch with the public.

It’s all very well for celebrity Jamie to say how he put in long hours. Most people who run their own businesses do – because they are making money for themselves and not for a greedy boss. But expecting people to work 100 hours a week on a small wage to line your own pockets just makes him look like a slave driver – although at least we now know partly why he is so wealthy!

But there are other issues I have with the arrogant Jamie Oliver. He bleats on about making food from scratch as the cure-all for obesity and financial problems. But as someone who admittedly has lots of his (not very well used) cookbooks, he – like many chefs who produce these recipe books – needs to take some of the responsibility for creating the obesity crisis we have at the moment. Obesity is not just confined to people eating take aways every night. If you cook too often using many of the butter, salt and sugar laden recipes in Jamie’s cook books I can guarantee you would get fat. Healthy eating is not just about cooking from scratch. Believe me, it is quite easy to pile on the pounds if you follow some of these calorie laden recipes.

I would also add one of the reasons I don’t find his recipes particularly doable is the mountain of ingredients you have to buy. Yes, I am sure a pinch of some unusual spice will cost a penny but unfortunately you can’t buy a pinch – you end up buying a packet that you use in one recipe, which you might never use again. So this idea that his home made food is always cheaper just isn’t correct.

And then turning to his own restaurants, well being honest there is lots of room for improvement. It is a shame that rather than spend time pushing his TV programme and books, this over-rated mouthy chef doesn’t visit some of them and ask himself if paying customers are really getting value for money and decent food. Unfortunately the local Jamie Oliver restaurant near me is not one I will visit again. It is over-priced and the food isn’t anything to write a great review about. Then, when you go you are bombarded with Jamie Oliver recipe books and other sales ploys to get you to buy into his way.

As someone says on Mailonline says: “Top prices for very average grub and low wages for his staff. Result… a millionaire chef.” And that is a typical comment.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make especially in the UK is to ‘slag off’ (to use Jamie’s expression) your customers. That is exactly what this puffed-up self-appointed expert in nutrition and business has done and unfortunately there will be a price to pay.

Quite how steep that price will be remains to be seen. But if I were Jamie Oliver’s publicist I would be having urgent talks about damage limitation and how best to restore my client’s image after such an extraordinary outburst.

Alison Smith-Squire

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website Featureworld.co.uk, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

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