James Trevor "Jamie" Oliver, MBE (born 27 May 1975) is a British chef, restaurateur, media personality, known for his food-focused television shows, cookbooks and more recently his campaign against the use of processed foods in national schools. He strives to improve unhealthy diets and poor cooking habits in the United Kingdom and the United States. Oliver's speciality is Italian cuisine, although he has a broad international repertoire.
Jamie Oliver was brought up in Clavering, Essex, with his sister Anna-Marie Oliver, in England. His parents ran a pub, "The Cricketers", where he used to practice in the kitchen. He was educated at Springfield Comprehensive. In 2009 Oliver stated that he was of partial Sudanese ancestry via his great-great grandfather John, whom he described as "a bit swarthy". However, research for the Sunday Express established that John's father Peter was a hatter from Penzance, and that James' father Richard was also Cornish, leaving little or no possibility of a Sudanese connection. The family legend of Sudanese ancestry may have originated in the 19th century when John Oliver returned from sea, possibly with a tanned complexion after visiting Africa. Oliver left school at age sixteen with two GCSE qualifications and went on to attend Westminster Kingsway College, formerly Westminster College. He then earned a City & Guilds NVQ in home economics.
His first job was a pastry chef at Antonio Carluccio's Neal's Yard restaurant, where he first gained experience with preparing Italian cuisine, and developed a relationship with his mentor Gennaro Contaldo. Oliver then moved to The River Café, Fulham, as a sous chef.
It was there that he was noticed by the BBC in 1997 after making an unscripted appearance in a documentary about the restaurant, "Christmas at the River Cafe". That year, his show The Naked Chef debuted and his cookbook became a number one best-seller in the UK. That same year, Oliver was invited to prepare lunch for the Prime Minister of that time, Tony Blair at No. 10 Downing Street.
In 2000, Oliver became the face of the UK supermarket chain Sainsbury's through an endorsement deal worth $2 million a year. After 11 years the partnership between Oliver & Sainsbury's ended. The final television advertisement was for Christmas 2011.
Oliver created Fifteen in 2002. Each year, fifteen young adults who have a disadvantaged background, criminal record or history of drug abuse, are trained in the restaurant business.
In 2003, he was awarded an MBE.
In 2005, he initiated a campaign called "Feed Me Better" in order to move British schoolchildren towards eating healthy foods and cutting out junk food. As a result, the British government also pledged to address the issue. Delving into politics to push for changes in nutrition resulted in people voting him as the "Most Inspiring Political Figure of 2005," according to a Channel 4 News annual viewer poll.
His emphasis on cooking healthily continued as he created Jamie's Ministry of Food, a television series where Oliver travelled to inspire everyday people in Rotherham, Yorkshire, to cook healthy meals. Another television series is Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (2010–2011), where he travelled first to Huntington, West Virginia and then to Los Angeles to change the way Americans eat, and address their dependence on fast food.
Oliver's holding company, Sweet As Candy, has made enough profit for Oliver to have been listed on The Sunday Times list of richest Britons under 30.
In June 2008 he launched Jamie's Italian, his very first high-street business venture in Oxford, England.
It was reported in October 2009 that Oliver is in the process of raising US$22 million to help fund 30 of his Italian restaurants in Asia.
In December 2009, Oliver received the 2010 TED Prize.
Check out Jamie Oliver's recipe page!