Jamie Oliver's restaurants hit the buffers

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Richard Zambuni, May 21, 2019.

  1. I have noticed a fair number of posts on socials from people who got their 1st chance in the business via one of JO’s ventures, most notably fifteen, whether these were all perfect is not something I’m aware of, but I am struck by the appreciation of those who benefitted.
    Unsurprisingly I’m not a fan of the restaurants although Jamie’s Italian at Gatwick was better than most other options that I’ve tried there
    Thom Blach likes this.
  2. I've only eaten at one, in Nicosia a couple of years ago; it actually wasn't bad at the price, but I remember thinking at the time that the capex spend on front of house (including the bogs), seemed ambitious given the likely price point and footfall. If the rents really have doubled (who arranged his leases, then?), that would be "curtains", really.

    This sector is dying a death at the moment and I'm sure, as someone else said, that "Just Eat" and other Take-away apps aren't helping. All these creative accountants (should be oxymoronic, but unfortunately isn't) have constructed or facilitated deals allowing commercial property landlords to continue writing leases at totally inappropriate rates. The capitalist system will self-correct as always but the correction will take a few years to work its way through the system, unfortunately.

    Maybe preferences are changing too and people are just bored with "faux Italian" pizza pasta risotto stuff, who knows?
    Thom Blach likes this.
  3. @David Crossley "his man of the people persona with the cheeky cockney ordinary person element which doesn't really fit with his actual background"

    His wikipedia entry suggests he came from a humble enough background (dad running a pub in Essex) and he didn't go to a fancy school or uni. Is that not correct or misleading?
  4. His dad did (and may still do) run a pub in Essex that we used to go to many years ago. It was a standard country pub with reasonable food and beer. I don't think he did particularly well academically. I have several of his early cookery books which, when you don't know how to cook very well, seemed very simple to follow. I have eaten in a couple of his Italian places and maybe I have been lucky but they seemed a little bit better than similarly priced "Italian" restaurants. Maybe the individual chef in each has an impact? We only ever chose the freshly cooked dishes if I remember correctly. I think he honestly tries to do his best, but maybe he has had poor business advice?

    My only visit to Fifteen (in Cornwall) was marred by a power cut that meant all we had to eat were charcuterie, olives, bread and almost limitless ice cream (as the freezers were not working)!
    Will Devize likes this.
  5. Smacks of an unsustainable business model: trying to reduce costs at the expense of quality.
  6. I'm trying to envisage a scenario in which, while in Cyprus, I would choose to visit a Jamie's Italian!
  7. According to today's Guardian, Jamie's Italians outside the UK are franchises as is the Fifteen in Cornwall and they are not affected by the failure of his UK restaurant business.

    The administration does not affect more than 61 overseas outlets, including 25 Jamie’s Italians, or Fifteen in Cornwall, all of which are run by franchisees.see here
  8. I know, Phil, I'll just say that after three weeks of squiddy/octopussy deciciousness; souvlaki; kleftiko; home-made keftedes and souvla barbecues, it seemed a good idea at the time....
    Phil David likes this.
  9. According to the Guardian, Jamie's Italian (as well as some other chains) have been hit by a decline in casual dining, takeaways and home delivery

    The Jamie's Italian in St Albans closed a few years ago and yet the nearby independent Italian is jam packed every night and we've been unable to get a booking the last two time we tries. A new Italian opened 6 weeks ago away from the city centre and it has been turning people away every night and is almost full at lunchtimes. There's demand here in Snorbens for Italian restaurants, just not Jamie's.

    (We never went to Jamie's. A couple whose opinion we respect went shortly after it opened and they said to avoid it, and we never heard a good word from other friends who went later.)

    I am cooking one of his recipes tonight for the second time after seeing it on his C4 programme a couple of weeks before. It's quick simple, has a time saving twist I didn't know of, and works well.
    Charles Muttar likes this.
  10. Maybe the only other place open was one of Gordon Ramsay's pubs?
  11. Being a TV chef and being able to be a restaurateur are very different skills. On the whole, I think he is a positive influence and he does seem to care about what people eat and to have a social conscience, which is not to be sneezed at. He's probably relieved that he can now focus on his media work.
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
    Mark Carrington likes this.
  12. I have no shame....the MacDonalds opposite the Palais des Festivals in Cannes is one of my faves too....
  13. I sold my house in Primrose Hill to Jamie in 2004. Nice family, but virtually the first thing they did was to take out all my rather nice bookcases. On enquiring why, I was told he is dyslexic. If so, I think it likely that his books have been skilfully put together for him by ghost writers and editors. His ideas, no doubt, but someone else's presentation skills, on paper at least.
  14. Well I never. I remember giving a little concert in the house next door a few years ago when they spoke highly of their then neighbour, Mr. Oliver.
    I wonder how many cooking 'personalities'actually write their own books? I suspect the answer is not many.
    Charles Muttar likes this.
  15. I agree, and I would not want anyone to think I felt the same about Jamie as I do about people who have far more impact on my life in a negative way.

    Knowing people who own small businesses on the high street, I do know rents and rates are a massive issue, without going into the reasons why they have both been rising dramatically now of all times.

    Where I live I’d still say when a restaurant closes another one opens pretty much. For now, maybe. I think it’s going negative in London, but as I think Phil said, hopefully there are jobs out there for the staff. They probably stand a better chance than Majestic employees of slotting into the same industry fairly quickly.
  16. There is a real skill in translating recipes that work in a restaurant kitchen to a domestic environment. I remember an article a couple of months ago featuring people who did actually write the books published under more famous names. They were pretty clear that the named authors were the creators of the dishes and their role was about making them suitable for home cooks.
    Mark Crann likes this.
  17. Chef (I don't mean Jamie, I mean 'Michelin' style)cookbooks don't work at all and never have done, in my experience.
    Alex Jagger likes this.
  18. I remember giving a Heston Blumenthal cookbook to someone and telling him that he was the only person I could give it to, as he was doing a Doctorate in Mathematics.
  19. I was given the Fat Duck cookbook, which may well be the same one. It's a beautiful book but utterly unusable. Even one tiny component of each recipe is a)cost prohibitive and b)requires what feels like industrial machinery. An enjoyable "coffee table" read, however.
    Alex Jagger likes this.
  20. I'd rather a restaurant book was clear about what is actually done, though, and Heston has elsewhere written very well for domestic cooks. Though I fear I may have provoked a diversion from the topic in question!
  21. I was cooking at The Ivy when the eponymous cookbook came out. Pretty much none of the recipes were the ones we followed.

    In fact, many were even more complicated.
  22. Here's an interesting review about one of the Jamies' places recently.

    "Appalling, a honking, salty swamp of a sauce, brown and dusty with nutmeg. Tiny chunks, not shavings, of tasteless black truffle lurk around, like mouse poos in soup."

    It's a shame for the staff. I have fond (but blurry) memories of the one in brighton (approx. 5 years back). Food was good, wine was reasonably priced and decent, staff were brilliant. There was some sort of offer on the vino which meant we all had far too much. Great fun.
  23. I read that as: "I remember giving Heston Blumenthal a cookbook..." now that would have been audacious. Not as audacious as Gordon Ramsey of course!
  24. I wonder how many people here have shelves of cookbooks where one recipe has been dutifully followed in the weeks after Christmas or a birthday and then it remains on the shelf. I’m pretty sure we have one of Jamie’s but I can’t recall ever having been given a dish from it. I don’t use recipe books myself, though I cook three or four times a week.

    But I would be happy to defend a list of cookbooks (on a more appropriate thread), recipes so different to what we’d normally cook and that work.
    Paul Benny likes this.

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