Jamie Oliver's restaurant chain goes bust

Perhaps not too much of a surprise after last year’s news that it was heavily in debt.

Too bad, he didn’t call Gordon for help!

Seems like big names’ restaurants, people go, try once and forget about them. The same seems to be happening with the Robuchon chain too and now he is no longer there. Singapour (2 of them), Bangkok and London Covert Garden are closing or closed.

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That was me with Oliver’s restaurant in Manchester. Disappointing food and service. Here’s the review I posted on Chowhound’s UK board back in 2012

Read your CH review. That was indeed a big disappointment. Nothing much worked.

Although Robuchon is another problem, too expensive to want to go often. My meal was a great one back in 2007. The problem is when I want to spend that money, I prefer the famed chef works in the restaurant, instead of just a masthead.

I didn’t hear last year’s news, so I was shocked this morning to see Jamie’s Instagram announcement. I LOVED Barbacoa by St. Paul’s. Jamie’s Italian in Oxford was very average.

I’m always saddened to read news like this.

Jamie Oliver, Emeril, Paula Deen, Ming Tsai, Bobby Flay, Martha Stewart and Graham Kerr inspired me to take on cooking and grilling decades ago. Their instruction and good cheer enriched my life and enhanced our family dining table immeasurably.

Per the report, Oliver’s financial commitment here at the end, seems to show his rock solid scruples.


While each of them has inspired me to cook, I have also learned from them and others to be grateful that that is not how I earn my living.


Actually true, Jamie Oliver’s book, Happy Days with Naked Chef inspired me to cook! Before that, I had not much interested in cooking nor in food. I used no recipe or I adapted a lot when following a recipe, meaning replacing most ingredients etc. Nothing came out especially good. When friend lent me her JO book in early 2000, I tried to really look for the ingredients without much substitution. This was so rewarding, fresh and right ingredients were so important, finally food turned out tasty, and I gained some confidence…

Back to JO, maybe he will be better off to remain a media personality than being an entrepreneur?


I do hope that eventually if he can get back Fifteen, it’s a bit of a symbol.

On Guardian today:

Whilst I havent enjoyed his more recent books (or found them at all inspiring), we still roast a chicken as his recipe in the first Naked Chef book.

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You have to understand, before JO, my cooking skill was zero! My husband, then bf, cooked for the first 2-3 years when we were together.

I do have 2 more recent books, but they weren’t as interesting. Maybe they are more or less the same as his older books.

My main complaint about Oliver is his (or his management’s) blatant assumption that the public are fools (and he may be right). It seems that every year for the last few years, there’s been a new TV series with cookbook, promising that each is a “fantastic new way to cook”. There was “30 Minute Meals”, then “15 Minute Meals”, then “SuperFoods” and, latterly, “Five Ingredients”.

I also have issues with the actual recipe writing. There is repetitive wording. I am an author and, to be absolutely honest, if I kept including the same phrases that often, then the editor at my publishers would be having a serious talk with me. One absolutely meaningless phrase particularly irritates - “Season to perfection”. OK to use it a couple of times but, in one of the books, I counted that it was used in around 50% of the recipes. Most of the other 50% didnt mention seasoning so it seems to be a stock phrase used by whichever of Oliver’s employees actually write the recipes.

Now, to be fair, I accpet that I have a general “down” on Oliver as a person. At the beginning of his public career, I went to a major food festival. He was one of a number of celebrity chefs who were there promoting their cookbooks. All of them, bar one, was happy to autograph the book when you’d bought it. For Oliver, however, there was an addiitonal charge of, I think, £5 for the signature. Just cynical money-grabbing to my mind.

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Well, I confess that Jamie Oliver’s shows did start me down the road to what we’d call sheet pan cooking. Tray bake is the more popular term? I was strictly a pot-and-pan cook before that.

I still like roasting various combinations of chopped vegetables, sometimes with sausages, on a sheet pan for an easy weeknight meal.

And in one of his shows JO briefly visited an Indian restaurant in London that was called Rasa Samudra, now closed. My husband and I went once to celebrate an anniversary dinner. We ordered a spread called a Kerala Feast which brought maybe 40 little plates to the table, including all manner of pickled foods. One of our most memorable dining experiences ever.

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Wow that was memorable!

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The problem is they don’t know their target audience well, I believe. They always target at people who don’t have a hint how to cook or too busy to bother, but once those of his fans learn or grow older, you should teach them something else.

Husband couldn’t stand his shows on TV, found him very repetitive and always the same lame jokes.

In France, an equivalent JO is called Cyril Lignac, as a young chef with a few years of experience, he just quitted his job and was spotted by TV chain and did a tv reality on how to open a restaurant (his first restaurant). Like JO, I believe that Lignac comes from a humble background, so he appeals to the general public with simple language and the show was a big hit. Ever since, he is involved in all types of TV, judges of Top Chefs or pastries shows. Like Oliver, he has his restaurants: a few fine dining ones including one with 1 star, a Franco Japanese restaurant and a cocktail bar with Japanese small plates. All his eateries have a different concepts and aim at premium (price and quality). His earlier formation included pastries, so naturally he entered into the domain of sweets, with a chain of pastries, bakeries and chocolate. He always aim at quality but is accessible to all. You can go and buy a cake (even they are expensive 5 - 8 €, but comparatively affordable) or dine in his restaurants or buy his cookbooks. His empire seems to work quite well and hire 500 or more people.

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