James Trevor Oliver, MBE (born May 27, 1975), better known as Jamie Oliver and The Naked Chef, is an English celebrity chef. He is well known for his use of organic food and for his recent work in changing eating habits in British schools. Since his early years, his Essex accent has become infamous-- particularly the use of the hindi word "pukka" (meaning "brilliant").
Oliver grew up in in Clavering, Essex, where his parents owned a pub-restaurant, The Cricketers. From an early age, Oliver helped in the pub kitchen; by the time he was 11, he was adept at vegetable prep and could chop "like a demon". In 1989, Oliver formed the band Scarlet Division with best friend Leigh Haggerwood, and dreamed of pop stardom. However, by age 16, Oliver knew he wanted to be a chef, so he attended Westminster Catering College and then studied in France, learning as much as he could, before returning to London to work as head pastry chef for Antonio Carluccio at The Neal Street Restaurant. After The Neal Street Restaurant, Oliver worked for Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers at the River Café for three and a half years; Oliver credits Gray and Rogers with teaching him to create the fresh, simple, delicious food which would become his signature.
It was at the River Café that Oliver debuted in front of a TV camera. A television documentary about the restaurant was being filmed; Oliver's personality caught the attention of editors and he was featured prominently in the finished product. The day after the programme aired, Oliver was contacted by multiple production companies wanting to discuss a possible show of his own.
The result was "The Naked Chef", a cooking programme. Two highly successful seasons of "The Naked Chef" were filmed in 1998 and 1999. The popular series brought Oliver worldwide fame, and more television programmes and book deals followed. As of 2007, Oliver had six additional television series and eight books under hs belt.
After a brief appearance on "The Naked Chef", Oliver's band, Scarlet Division, was offered a record deal by Sony. Its debut single "Sundial" reached 42 in the UK charts, but, in spite of having been together for ten years, the band had trouble being taken seriously due to Oliver's fame as a chef, and was dropped by Sony. Soon after, Oliver asked Haggerwood to write the music for his new show, "Oliver's Twist". The series, a massive worldwide success, featured Haggerwood's popular theme song "Just The Start".
Wanting to create something positive using his wealth and fame, Oliver conceived and established the Fifteen charity restaurant where he trains 15 disadvantaged young people to work in the hospitality industry. Following the success of the original restaurant in London, more Fifteens have opened around the globe:The process of creating and opening the original Fifteen was documented in the series "Jamie's Kitchen".
Next, Oliver began a formal campaign to ban unhealthy food in British schools and get kids eating fresh, tasty, nutritious food instead. Oliver's efforts to bring radical change to the school meals system, chronicled in the series "Jamie's School Dinners", challenged the junk food culture by showing schools they could serve healthy, cost-efficient meals that kids enjoyed eating.
In June, 2003, Oliver was appointed an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. Reputedly a multimillionaire, he has also written columns for The Times. A great proponent of fresh organic foods, in May, 2005, Oliver was named the most influential person in the UK hospitality industry when he topped the inaugural CatererSearch 100. The list saw Oliver beating out Sir Francis Mackay, the then-chairman of the contract catering giant, Compass Group, which Oliver had soundly criticised in "Jamie's School Dinners". In 2006, Oliver dropped to 2nd on the list behind fellow celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. [Source: Wikipedia]