He was not the first TV chef, but nobody is more responsible for ushering in two decades of wall-to-wall cookery shows than Jamie Oliver.
Now he has revealed that he has largely given up watching them himself, turning instead to YouTube for the most cutting-edge recipes.
The Oliver household is much more likely to tune in to Love Island than the current crop of wannabe Naked Chefs, he said, adding that he doubts he would make it in the current age as TV bosses prefer to play it safe.
“I tend not to [watch cookery shows]. I don’t think cookery takes risks with new talent,” he told the Radio Times.
“The Naked Chef happened at a certain moment and it had that great name, but if I tried to do it now, I’m not sure I’d get the commission. There’s extraordinary talent out there, but they’re making their own content on YouTube.”
Asked what his family watches, he said everybody in his house is enamoured with Love Island, though he claimed: “If the girls have got it on, then I’ll do work emails.”
Nevertheless, Oliver is promoting his own new cookery show and accompanying book, Together, which centres on post-lockdown reconnections with friends and family.
He said: “I realised, after a year of not seeing loved ones, that food is an excuse to bring people together.
“My recipe writing has changed for this book: it’s about doing jobs in advance so that when your guest turns up, you’re not cooking, you’re enjoying their company. There’s advice on table decorations and menu planning, but it’s not about being fancy, it’s about creating a relaxed atmosphere.”
Oliver revealed he was likely to make further forays into the restaurant business after a tumultuous few years for his chains. “I’m watching for now, but I’ll definitely get back in the game,” he said. “We’ve got some exciting ideas for Fifteen [his not-for-profit restaurant] to reimagine itself, and we still have restaurants abroad.”
Looking further into the future, Oliver added: “2019 was the 20th anniversary of The Naked Chef, so I’m wondering what the next 20 years will look like. I’ve had some great successes, some great fails, and you learn. I’m a more measured Jamie now. I just want to do things that make me happy.”
Asked if that meant less risk-taking, he said: “No, it means going in a more controlled direction. I’ve had a lot of trial and error, but you can’t stop trying. Fifteen was trailblazing. Everyone said, ‘Don’t do it,’ but it’s still the best thing I’ve ever done.”