Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver said trusting his instincts to return to the UK restaurant industry is “the right thing to do” because he is not fully happy or complete without an eatery.
Oliver, 48, recently announced plans to relaunch a restaurant in London’s Catherine Street in November, after his restaurant empire which included Jamie’s Italian, Barbecoa and Fifteen, collapsed into administration in May 2019.
He still has franchised restaurants in countries around the world, including in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, and Jamie’s Deli in Europe – but since 2022 his only new outlet in London has been a pop-up in soho.
Chef and TV personality Oliver, who has fronted multiple TV series including The Naked Chef which aired in 1999, told You magazine about plans to open his first new restaurant in a Grade I listed building in London’s Covent Garden.
“I wasn’t planning to do it for a couple of years,” he said.
“But through having probably the best mid-market restaurant group on the planet for seven years, then losing it over four years and everything involved in that, I think trusting my instinct and my gut is the right thing to do.
“The Naked Chef is naked without a restaurant. Without it I’m not fully happy, I’m not fully complete.”
Oliver said “yes of course” when asked if he wished he had done things differently during the reign of Jamie’s Italian.
“But I have become quite philosophical about failure or things that were wrong,” he continued.
“Often, we don’t learn or evolve until we’ve felt pain; we don’t try to think about things differently until getting it wrong has resulted in pain.”
It comes after his businesses notched up higher profits after he helped households create £1 meals during the cost-of-living squeeze.
His empire, which includes TV programmes, recipe books, branded products and partnerships as well as restaurants overseas, made a pre-tax profit of £7.7m over 2022, 17.5% higher than the previous year.
Oliver will next be seen trying new culinary experiences when he travels across Greece, Tunisia, Spain and France for a new four-part Channel 4 series Jamie Cooks The Mediterranean.
The chef said it was his wife Jools who had convinced him to create a new version of his 2017 recipe book Five Ingredients, but with a Mediterranean twist, which became the inspiration for the series airing next month.
The couple recently renewed their wedding vows in the Maldives after 23 years together, with their five children.
“Jools has been my rock through the whole thing,” he said.
“I knew she loved me before I was worth a penny. We spent years in London being skint and she loved me then, and she loved me when I sold a million books.
“So she has been an incredible North Star for me. She’s a nice, simple girl and quite shy.
“She’s not there on the red carpet. She keeps her distance. And I love her for that.”
Oliver recalled that when he rocketed to fame he asked his wife whether they should “call it a day and get a pub in north Essex” or run with it “even though we knew it would come with some awful facets”.
He continued: “Statistically, celebrities’ children don’t work out great. Child stars don’t work out great.
“And even if you do well, you’re going to get battered every now and again.
“I get a good battering at least every three years and it’s never nice. And you might deserve it, but you might not.”