Ahead of his new Channel 4 series The Great Cookbook Challenge, TV chef Jamie Oliver, 46, reflected on his heroes and inspirations in the culinary world, paying homage to those who helped pave his way to worldwide fame. But there’s one individual who he credits them dearly for motivating his own talents in the kitchen, but admitted meeting them was a mistake. His name? Marco Pierre White.
It’s been over two decades since Jamie first burst onto our screens, with the former Naked Chef boasting an MBE, a BAFTA and an Emmy.
He’s even become the biggest-selling non-fiction writer in UK history, with a string of cookbooks that have sold over 47 million copies across the globe.
A huge asset to the culinary industry for sure, but he had some very wise words for anyone wanting to meet their heroes in their chosen field of expertise.
Looking back on the various cookbooks from other chefs that helped spear-head his career, Jamie told Radio Times: “The first one I remember buying was a pasta book by Antonio Carluccio, where he had taken the top off a parmesan and was tossing some pasta in it.
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“I later worked for him and for Gennaro Contaldo, his sidekick, and he became my mentor. “When I was 14 years old and becoming more cheffy, there was Raymond Blanc’s Recipes from Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons.”
He went on: “Marco Pierre White was this extraordinary talent and the youngest two-star Michelin chef on the planet. Cool as hell.
“The professional industry was quite staid and he reimagined that beautifully.”
But after a brief pause, he added: “But never meet your heroes.
“He represented a new lease of life in an industry that was full of fuddy-duddy old g**s that were kind of so worldly that that was a very inner sanctum, and he was cool man.
“And I think what’s sometimes disappointing about life, is when you meet your heroes, and they’re either not what you expect, or they don’t like you.”
Back in 2019, after Marco blasted a “delusional” Jamie for blaming Brexit for the collapse of his restaurant empire, he also criticised his restaurants in a candid interview with BirminghamLive.
Marco said: “The only time I’ve ever dined at a Jamie’s was at Gatwick Airport. I’ve dined twice there, most recently, last year .
“Both times I had to wait a very long time for my food. It was horrific.
“We all make mistakes, we all have bad days. But I’ve got to say it was consistently bad on both occasions.
“It wasn’t my decision to eat there both times – the people I was with chose to go there, but you wouldn’t want to go to another Jamie’s after that.
“Even if you enjoyed your food, bad service always leaves a sour taste in the mouth.”
Jamie’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times.