If you care about food even a little bit, chances are, you know who Jamie Oliver is. The chef has been a staple for nearly two decades now, putting out an endless stream of cookbooks and appearing on a wide variety of shows. It seems that nearly every year, there's a new version of him on television—traveling to Italy, prepping a Christmas feast, and more. While part of the reason is that his food is obviously delicious, another part is that audiences just really seem to love his personality. He has a very casual approach to cooking and makes the entire process seem fun, which is exactly what many home cooks need to encourage them to enter the kitchen.
Everyone has a different style in the kitchen, and while some chefs can seem like they've stepped straight out of a restaurant with their complex recipes, Jamie's style has always been simple—he has the technical skill, but he's more focused on encouraging people to get cooking.
However, beyond the fact that he's been in the culinary world since he was a teenager, how much do you really know about Jamie Oliver? There's a lot more to the carefree chef than meets the eye. From his childhood to his children, we've got 20 fascinating things most foodies don't know about Jamie Oliver. We have a feeling he's going to be in the culinary world for another few years to come and can't wait to watch or read whatever he comes up with next.
20 He First Started Cooking At His Parents' Pub
It's always interesting to learn about how chefs first got into the culinary world, and in Jamie Oliver's case, it happened at quite a young age. Oliver's parents ran The cricketers, a local pub in Clavering, Essex, where they served up food and drinks to the residents. Jamie started helping out in the kitchen to earn an allowance when he was just eight years old and soon began serving drinks to the thirsty patrons and learning more and more kitchen skills. By the time most kids were getting their first jobs, he already had a thorough first-hand look at what was involved in the service industry.
19 He Has Five Children—Talk About A Big Family!
In addition to juggling all the events and projects that pack his busy schedule, Jamie Oliver has a pretty bustling household—because he has five children! His brood of gorgeous kids with unique names includes Poppy Honey Rosie, Daisy Boo Pamela, Petal Blossom Rainbow, Buddy Bear Maurice, and River Rocket. Now, the question is, are any of them going to be interested in going into the family business? Goodness knows their dad could give them a few tips along the way. While it's going to be quite a few years before River Rocket is able to hold his own in a kitchen, perhaps Poppy or Daisy, the two oldest, will be trying out the culinary world soon.
18 He Got His First Show In His Early 20s
When you look back at pictures and clips of Jamie Oliver from his very first show, The Naked Chef, he looks like an entirely different guy. That's because, at the time, he was still just in his early 20s. The vast majority of culinary television personalities end up getting in front of the screen when they're a bit older, after they've spent at least a decade working in the industry, so he was certainly a bit of an anomaly. We can't even imagine how much stress he must've felt having such a big show when he was so young—but obviously, he made it work and made a huge success out of the show so that the network kept giving him more and more opportunities.
17 He Met His Wife Jools When He Was Just 18
If it seems like Jamie Oliver has been making references to his wife, Jools, pretty much since he's been on television, it's because they've been together for ages. Though Oliver is still quite young, he and his now-wife Jools have been together for over 20 years because they met when they were both just 18 years old! It was love at first sight, and they soon ended up getting married and, a few years later, began starting their family. We can only imagine what a wild ride it must've been from Jools's perspective for her hubby to go from a regular chef working in a restaurant to an international superstar.
16 His Go-To Hangover Cure Is Cumin
Like any Brit, Jamie Oliver has been known to indulge in a pint or two every now and then. However, given his busy schedule, laying in bed all day the next day with a massive hangover isn't really an option for him. Luckily, he has what he considers a foolproof cure—and you can probably find it right in your spice cabinet. According to Oliver, if you choke down a heaped tablespoon of cumin (perhaps mixed in water, we'd hope), then you'll be completely fine. We'd have to try his cure to truly believe him, but hey—why not give it a shot?
15 He Bid A lot Of Money On A Pair Of David Beckham’s Football Shoes
Back in 2002, in a charity auction hosted by former international football star David Beckham and his wife Victoria Beckham of Spice Girls fame, Jamie Oliver got into a bidding war with Simply Red's Mick Hucknall.
They were bidding on a pair of Beckham's football shoes, when the star athlete offered to give them each a pair - for a whopping £29,000, which is worth over $36,000 today! That is a lot of money! Oliver got some awesome new sneaks, and more importantly the charity also benefitted, so everyone came out a winner.
14 His Net Worth Is In The $400 Million Range
The culinary industry often isn't the most highly paid industry—at least not if you're just a regular employee working in a restaurant. When you become a celebrity chef, though, the sky's the limit for your earning potential, as Jamie Oliver knows well. Between his television shows and his cookbooks and his products like pots and pans to his brand partnerships in supermarkets, Jamie Oliver has earned himself quite a bit over the years. His net worth is somewhere in the $400 million range, and we have a feeling that'll just continue to grow as he continues working hard in the culinary world. So impressive!
13 He Didn't Finish A Full Book Until His 30s
Though he obviously has no trouble working with his team to pull together cookbooks and write recipes, when it comes to actually sitting down with a book and finishing it, Oliver has always had a bit of trouble. In fact, because of his dyslexia, he's admitted that he never actually got through an entire book—until his late 30s. As he confessed to The Telegraph UK, the popular YA book Catching Fire was the first one he actually finished, and he did it when he was 38 years old. Not everyone is a bookworm, and we'd much rather he continue to put out incredible cookbooks rather than spend all his time reading!
12 He Loves Collecting Driftwood
Jamie Oliver's passion for food is so intense that even his hobbies are linked to the culinary world—well, kind of. He's confessed before that he has a bit of an obsession with collecting driftwood because he's found that a solid piece of driftwood makes the perfect chopping board. While he can certainly afford to buy as many expensive chopping boards as he needs, there's something about the thrill of the search that he loves. And who can blame him? Considering where driftwood is often found, why not take a bit of a stroll alongside a peaceful body of water and search for the perfect chopping board?
11 Apart From J.K. Rowling, He's Britain's Bestselling Author
When you think of bestselling authors, chances are, you think of writers who pen works of fiction that become international bestsellers and get adapted into movies and become huge phenomena. However, it turns out that chef Jamie Oliver has a place on the list amongst those fiction writers—and it's a pretty high place! Apart from J.K. Rowling, the author responsible for the massively popular Harry Potter series, Jamie Oliver is actually the bestselling author in Britain. How crazy is that? We never would've dreamed that cookbooks could sell so well, but obviously, there's something in Jamie's books that Brits absolutely love.
10 BBC Producers First Noticed Him When He Was Working At The River Cafe
It's always fascinating to discover how chefs that end up becoming television personalities get discovered. Some end up taking matters into their own hands by auditioning for shows or networks; others get discovered entirely by accident, as was the case for Jamie Oliver. He was working at a restaurant, The River Cafe, that ended up becoming the subject of a documentary made by the BBC. Oliver was just one of several staff members who were featured, but when the documentary debuted, everyone knew there was something special about the young chef. Oliver was contacted by five different production companies who felt his fun personality would translate well into his own show—and the rest is history.
9 He Loves To Play The Drums
Since he started working in the culinary world and was almost immediately thrust into stardom thanks to his television show, Jamie Oliver hasn't had a lot of time to pursue other passions. And there's one passion that many may not know about: his love for the drums. When he was in high school, he was apparently in a band called "Scarlet Division" with a few of his friends. Obviously, he didn't end up building a career in the music business, but who knows? After all, the sky's the limit for the talented Brit! Perhaps one day, he'll decide to take a break and pursue his music.
8 He Has Published 20 Cookbooks
If it seems like every year, Jamie Oliver has a new cookbook out on shelves. Well, it's because he sort of does. Over the course of his career, he's published 20 cookbooks, which works out to almost one a year. And, the thing we love most is the fact that he so often picks different focuses. From budget meals to meals that incorporate superfoods and a healthier twist, from his earlier basic cookbooks to his ones that highlight the cuisine of certain regions, like when he went to Italy, each one is a new source of inspiration. His works could easily fill an entire bookshelf in your kitchen!
7 He Was The Face Of Sainsbury's Supermarkets For Years (And Then Tesco)
Just when you think Jamie Oliver is famous enough, he takes on another huge project—although this one may not have been quite as time intensive as writing cookbooks. For many years, Jamie Oliver has been the face of different supermarkets—first Sainsbury's, and then Tesco. While he did quite a few promotional appearances, it's not as if he was sitting around the supermarket every weekend—he simply allowed the brands to use his face and his celebrity to convince people to shop at their market rather than elsewhere. The deal definitely increased his net worth quite a bit, so that's smart business on his part!
6 For Years, He Only Slept 3-4 Hours A Night
If you've ever wondered how on earth Jamie Oliver manages to get so much done in the same 24 hours the rest of us have, well, for quite a while, the answer was by not sleeping very much. He's admitted that for quite a few years, he slept only about three or four hours a night, which definitely isn't enough. As he's grown a bit older, he's become more focused on his health and has made it a mission to get at least six hours a night, which is a definite improvement. Sleep is always a struggle, especially for people with busy schedules, so we love that he's making an effort to improve.
5 His Favorite Cooking Technique Is Roasting
There's no technique in the kitchen that Oliver hasn't mastered at this point, from sauteeing to broiling to basting. However, there's one particular method of cooking that he absolutely adores: roasting. As he told Food & Wine, "I like to cook the meat, vegetables, and potatoes in one pan. You just put it in the oven—it cooks, and you know it's just getting better and better." We totally agree. And as an added bonus, roasting is super simple and straightforward—it packs a lot of flavor for not a ton of effort, which is always a plus. Who doesn't love a good roast dinner?
4 A Bacon Sandwich Is His Go-To Comfort Food
Oliver could easily whip up a three-course feast at a moment's notice, so you might assume that his go-to comfort food would be a fairly complicated recipe. However, that couldn't be further from the truth. In an interview with Food & Wine, he admitted that his favorite comfort food of all time was just a regular bacon sandwich. It pretty much just involves frying up some bacon, slapping it between some toast, and perhaps adding a condiment or two to give a little extra flavor. It's kind of nice to know that not even chefs are always preparing picture-perfect meals—sometimes, you just want something quick and easy that tastes delicious.
3 He Loves Incorporating Spice Into His Dishes
Jamie has worked with foods from all different regions and all ends of the spectrum, from healthy choices to decadent treats for special occasions. However, there's one particular ingredient he absolutely loves to incorporate—chiles. As he's confessed, "I am a chile freak. I keep creating more and more spiced-up dishes just so I can experiment with them." We can totally understand his obsession. It's such a tricky balance between making sure a dish is flavorful and packs a punch without making the heat level overwhelming. Spicy food lovers will have to check out his recipes incorporating chile—they're probably pretty amazing.
2 He's Passionate About Changing The Way People Eat
One of the things that Jamie Oliver has become best known for is his crusades for healthy eating. Way back in 2005, he started a campaign to get children in the UK to eat more healthy foods, and then, he even made his way across the pond to the United States to do the same kind of work. He's passionate about trying to get people away from processed foods and getting them to eat whole, healthy foods and just overall improve their diets. It's not always an easy conversation, but it's definitely an important one, and we love that he's so passionate about the things he believes in.
1 He Has An MBE
There are a few celebrities and businessmen that have been given a MBE designation over the years, and it turns out that Jamie Oliver is one of them! Back in 2003, he got an MBE for the services he'd provided to the hospitality industry over the years, which is a pretty major accomplishment. And in typical Jamie fashion, he made the event a bit more casual than it was intended to be—while most recipients wear a suit and tie for the event, Oliver felt much more comfortable in his favorite brown suit, sans tie, so that's exactly what he wore.