"I left school with basically nothing, I was a special needs kid. I did feel as though my school had let me down."
His first series propelled him to being one of the country’s leading culinary personalities, securing him a book deal for The Naked Chef, a title which quickly became a bestseller. From here the father-of-five built his empire, opening multiple restaurants, creating a range of branded food products and kitchenwear, filming many more TV shows and becoming a campaigner for the promotion of healthy food for kids in schools and the improvement of packaged food labelling regulations.
Despite his near-unanimous popularity, it hasn’t always been plain sailing for the chef. Jamie Oliver has often spoken about being dyslexic, having left school with just two GCSEs and having been reported to have read his first novel at the age of 38 (it was The hunger Games thriller Catching Fire, if you’re interested). Aside from academic challenges the chef has also more recently struggled to sustain his success, facing the collapse of his restaurants across the UK in 2019, as well as being criticised for partnering with Shell on the company’s petrol station outlets to provide various food items. Some have expressed concerns that working with the company goes some way to undoing his work promoting climate change issues and the interests of children.
Despite the ups and downs, Jamie won official recognition by way of being awarded an MBE in 2003, as well as having other pretty impressive achievements under his belt, like cooking for the then-Prime Minister Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street. If you have an appetite for more Jamie Oliver news, read below for a whole host of quick-fire facts.