Story by Jamie Oliver
When I have a chance, I love to read through the Forums on the site. It's great to see so many of you getting into conversations around food. To mix things up a bit I recently suggested that the forum members ask me any question that they like. There were some great questions so I thought that I would share the answers with everyone.
Dawnrigoni: You have fame, fortune, talent, influence, health, and a beautiful family…Is it fate, luck, or hard work that got you all these things?
Jamie: Hi Dawn. I've always said that it is a combination of luck and hard work but with the emphasis on hard work. I get this from my old man, I guess. He has such a great work ethic. Luck can play a part – many years ago when I was working at the River Café I had just returned home after working a long shift and the restaurant called to say that someone had rung in sick and could I come back. I said sure thing, the cameras where there filming and the rest is history I guess. But having said that, things like starting Fifteen, School Dinners and Ministry of Food were all really, really hard work but worth it when you look at what's been achieved.
Ashen: Who is the best non-professional cook that you know? And what was the best meal they cooked for you?
Jamie: My family are all great cooks. I would definitely say that my Mum's Sunday roast with all of the trimmings is the best that I have ever had. My nan also makes a cracking lemon drizzle cake. But mates like Jason Flemyng are pretty good in the kitchen and I once had a meal cooked by Richard Madeley which was delicious. Thanks for the question, Ashen.
rhianna899: Where do you find inspiration for new, fresh ideas when writing your recipe books
Jamie: Well, Rhianna, I cook a lot at home and I am really lucky as I have a great vegetable and herb garden that is a constant inspiration for me. I also collect antique cook books and I often look to the past to find inspiration. I love the idea of bringing past recipes and ingredients back to life. Also I travel a great deal and I'm always inspired by other cuisines. If you're in the UK, you'll see a new series this September where I've been to places in the USA that are off the tourist track and some of the things I ate and cooked there are amongst the tastiest I've ever had.
Mykael: Have you ever, while making “School Dinners”, “Ministry Food” or even “Jamie's kitchen”, thought 'sod it these people aren't worth help!' or just wanted to give up?
Jamie: Mykael, I can honestly say that I've never felt that “these people aren't worth it” because all the people I worked with on Ministry or school food or Fifteen were wonderful in their own way. Yes, there were problems along the way with all three and there were times when I wondered whether I'd bitten off more than I could chew but I never seriously wanted to give up because I'm generally a great believer in people. Even those guys who left the first Fifteen course did so for their own reasons and I hope that they're making a success of themselves somewhere. But then look at the guys who graduated. Making their way up the catering ladder, maybe getting their own restaurants some day soon. That's what keeps me going.
dawnrigoni: Which band, any band, would be your dream to play drums for on tour???
Jamie: Definitely 100%, no questions – the Stone Roses! But alongside Reni, not instead of him, because he's an amazing drummer. Thanks, Dawn.
yiot69: What's your ideal holiday with the family?
Jamie: Every time I drive to my house in Essex it is like a holiday! That's where I grew up and I am really proud of the home that Jools and I have made for the kids. They love it too – the garden, swings and plenty of space to run around and have fun.
The White Rabbit: What kind of camera do you own?
Jamie: I have a Hassleblad which is brilliant and I love trying out other cameras too.
Swift2: Why Chilli with everything? eg pasta sauce?
Jamie: I just love it, always have. Someone once said to me that you can get addicted to it, maybe I am?
Lemonman: How to Stay Humble? You grow,expand,get fame and money…
Jamie: My family have been a big influence on me. They are all good people and I love them to bits. I also surround myself with great people who keep me grounded and I've still got mates from school who would soon tell me if I got a bit too big for my boots, Lemonman.
chocolatl: Who was the greatest influence on your culinary style?
Jamie: Definitely Gennaro for all things Italian and my Dad as well. Also, I have to mention Rose and Ruth at the River Café because they are such a big influence on so many great chefs working in London today.
CraigJ: Do you surf at all?, if not which sports do you participate in?
Jamie: I tried surfing once, Craig, but it was a bit of a challenge. I love to play tennis. My mate who I play with says that I am pretty good for a beginner but he says that I have no half measures and that I like to whack the ball!
MsPablo: Jamie, what's the most common misconception that people have about you?
Jamie: That I'm a workaholic. I'm really not. Yes, I work hard and I work long hours but when I'm off, I'm off. Good to hear from you, by the way, MsPablo. Enjoy your forum comments.