Jamie Oliver, 46, says that he scribbled his first recipe ideas on the back of anything he could get his hands on before becoming a household name
Jamie Oliver has shared that he wrote his first cookbook on the back of beer mats and cigarette packets.
The Naked Chef, who has dyslexia, has become the biggest-selling non-fiction writer in UK history.
Jamie, 46, scribbled “hundreds” of recipes on the backs of “fag packs, beer mats and order checks” in his London studio flat before becoming a success.
Although this was slightly problematic as his wife Jools liked to clean and would often mistake his carefully crafted recipes for bits of rubbish.
The dad-of-five told Radio Times: “What’s hilarious is that she cleans a lot. We only lived in a studio flat and the bag was jammed under the staircase. I thought she’d thrown it away.”
He added: “I did have a few hours where I was really scared that I didn’t have the book.”
Jamie has sold 47 million copies of his 26 cookbooks and has also scooped a Bafta, an Emmy and been awarded an MBE since he was spotted as a sous-chef at The River Cafe in 1997.
He was given his own BBC series, The Naked Chef, and the rest is history.
He’s spoke openly about having dyslexia in the past and told the outlet that if he were a horse, no one would have put money on him.
PA Archive/PA Images)
The chef added that he was a “special needs kid from school” and said that he never thought he would be able to write a book – in fact all he wanted to do was work in a pub.
Jamie, who grew up in Essex’s Clavering, said that he was in shock when he found out about his first book deal.
A far cry from writing ideas down on scraps of paper, Jamie recently revealed that he employs “cultural appropriation specialists” to check his recipes over before they hit the publishers.
The Chris Moyles Show on Radio X)
In 2018 he landed in hot water and had to defend the name of his “punchy jerk rice” after Labor shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler accused him of racial appropriation.
The argument was whether Jamie could call the rice jerk, which is a fusion of herbs and spices including allspice, thyme and nutmeg.
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She told him that the meal, which was a combination of brown rice and red kidney beans with aubergine and peppers served in a coconut “jerk-style” sauce was “not ok”.
She said she wondered if Jamie “knows what Jamaican jerk actually is”, adding: “It’s not just a word you put before stuff to sell products.”
Jamie hit back and issued a statement: “I’ve worked with flavors and spices from all over the world my whole career, learning and drawing inspiration from different countries and cultures to give a fresh twist to the food we eat every day.
“When I named the rice my intention was only to show where my inspiration came from.”
The full interview is available in the Radio Times.
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