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The 15 Best Lines From Jamie Oliver’s Interview With The Sunday Times

The chef and campaigner has lots of beef with Theresa May, a little with vegans, but none with Joe Wicks

Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver has just published his latest cookbook, 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food — his twentieth since 1999, the year he published The Naked Chef. The restless cooking personality — known not just for his cookbooks, TV shows and restaurants, but also his imploring Governments to improve school meals and promote healthy eating, particularly among children — spoke to The Sunday Times this weekend about the new Government, his role and a vegan community who he says “hate him.” Here are the 10 best lines from the interview.

  1. There’s confusion around who is in charge of Jamie Oliver: “The public is my first boss — after my wife.”
  2. What’s his role: “There’s a JO thing, which is that I’m quite mainstream. I do feel like a public servant.”
  3. The reason for his productivity (his latest book is his 20th): “When people ask, ‘Why do you sell so many books?’ I’m like, ‘Dude, we test stuff five times in the company, twice with strangers.’ Every recipe I write costs me £1,800.”
  4. On Joe Wicks, “the Body Coach”: “Joe’s done in publishing what no one else other than me, or a few others, have done. He’s a phenomenon, [his audience] is 12 years younger than mine. He’s probably doing a better job of getting 18- to 28-year-olds moving and eating fresh than anyone else right now. He’s talking about real food instead of, like, shit in a tray.”
  5. He definitely doesn’t like filthy filthy high-street chicken shops: “my true hate of the high street is filthy little two-bit chicken shops selling the most horrible, hydrogenated, low-welfare, imported, filthy chicken that is full of sat[urated] fats. If Deliveroo trumps some of them, I’m really happy.”
  6. On Theresa May’s gutting and release of the anti-obesity strategy he helped design with for Prime Minister David Cameron: “It was released at the same time the A-level results came out, with no marketing, no comms, no PR. In code, that means, ‘We don’t give a fuck’. It was unbelievable. Blatant.”
  7. ...Instead, he says: “It could have been a moment of national pride and at least she would have been able to look everyone in the eye and say we are going to get some change in the obesity graph in 10 years...[May] completely tore it up. What she did was awful.”
  8. Still on May, who in her election manifesto proposed (then dropped) scrapping free school meals: “It’s like something a 10-year-old would do in basic maths to save cash. It’s not strategic...Given everything we know that you get from the school lunch system — better attainment, better learning, less absenteeism...I mean, it was ... ‘What the fuck?’”
  9. He won’t reveal who he voted for in this year’s general election, but says: “I didn’t vote Conservative and I didn’t vote Corbyn.”
  10. He calls the recent masters he did in nutrition: “The best thing I’ve ever done.”
  11. Him on vegans: “They really annoy me. But I also care for them.”
  12. The clean eating thing: “Really annoys me. But there’s an energy coming out...because we do not know what the fuck it is that we are eating.”
  13. Vegans don’t care for him much and the vegan lobby have targeted his restaurants. In his words: “20 scruffy, weird-looking fellas putting iPads of slaughtered animals in front of kids having spaghetti bolognese on a Saturday lunch.”
  14. Vegans on him: “They hate me because we do stories about higher welfare meat, which I am deeply passionate about.”
  15. He claims that in most of his books, at least 65% of the recipes are vegetarian: “I have done more to push plant-based diets than any of them.” And laments the fact a vegetarian cookbook — “one of the best bits of work I’ve ever done” — he’s written can’t be published because Channel 4 won’t yet agree to an accompanying TV series. “[Because] they did a veggie show once and it bombed.”