A mild late summer evening in North London. For the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic, Jamie Oliver (46) has gathered around 120 employees – including his German assistant Julius, whom he affectionately calls “Sausage”.
While his friend and mentor Gennaro Contaldo (72) is still raving about Angela Merkel (67), whom he would like to take out one day, the star chef and his wife Jools talk to BamS about their children, their kitchen and last year’s crisis.
BILD am SONNTAG: What significance does being together have for you after a year and a half of the pandemic?
Jamie Oliver: “I don’t know if it’s my age or the fact that I’m a father. But the last year has traumatized us all because it has shown us what loss means – on all levels. So part of me is more nostalgic today and thinks back to the time before. The other part of me is just grateful that we all made it. “
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You have five children. What was your main concern as a mother and wife?
Jools Oliver: “The last year doesn’t seem real to me anymore, it’s all a bit blurry. As we entered the New Year in 2019, my biggest concern was that our eldest daughter Poppy was leaving to go to university. That was a day I had dreaded since she was born. On her 18th birthday in March last year, when the world suddenly began to close, I saw fear through my children’s eyes for the first time. The panic of having to quit school prematurely, the exams for which she had studied so hard for months – everything was in the air. “
What do parents do then?
Jools: “I didn’t understand what was going on myself, so how could we explain it to the kids? I am still very concerned about the effect this will have on her later in life. As a wife, I wanted to support Jamie. I wanted to be the best teacher, mother, cook, and housekeeper ever. I was even his camerawoman when he produced the shows every day in our kitchen at home. “
Jamie: “And when they were allowed to meet again for the first time after the lockdown, we invited Mum and Dad and shot it right away.”
Jools: “In all the chaos we kind of rummaged through. But I would steer clear of homeschooling in the future, it was incredibly exhausting. “
Jamie: “I don’t believe in screen teaching either. I think we could have done a lot better in this regard. Because even if teenagers always pretend to be very grown up, in truth they are still children who have yet to come to terms with these extreme experiences. “
Do you also see anything good in the past year?
Jools: “The only good thing about 2020 was the time we spent together as a family. And the unforgettable kitchen discos that we – well, mainly me – had every evening washing up. ” (laughs)
In your new book “Together” you write about cooking with and for friends. What are your parties like?
Jamie: “I now prefer to have six or eight people around me instead of being in one bunch with a lot of people. What I want to say: The home has got a new meaning. “
Jools: “Unfortunately, we can’t have as many dinner parties of our own as we want. Mainly because of Jamie’s job and the little time we have as a family to just relax. But when we meet and have guests, it’s always a big deal and – very important for us – with a lot of dancing! Our Christmas parties are notorious as we have quite a large family that is loud and happy. “
Jamie: “Only last time your parents were home alone because of Corona. That was bad.”
You share your kitchen with probably the most famous chef in the world. Is there anything he learned from you?
Jamie: “Oh God. Jools doesn’t even cook at home. So I would assume that I’m the jackpot for every household. “
Jools: “To be honest, I don’t think Jamie can learn anything from me in the kitchen. But conversely, I learned so much from him. First of all, how not to overcook meat. And how to use herbs properly. It’s actually pretty fascinating. “
Jamie: “You are so incredibly organized! Now I could say I learned from you how to sort my spices better, but I think you did. I learned from you to be kinder. You are much more relaxed as a mother than I am as a father. “
Jamie has mentioned many times that he goes to work and you organize the family. What is your ideal idea of alone time?
Jamie: “That I massage your feet while you have a cappuccino …”
Jools: “Fortunately, we have help, so it’s so much easier to be a mother of five. Still, I’m always there, which can be pretty intense around the clock. My best trick is to always get them all out into the fresh air. Regardless of the weather. That brings them away from their cell phones and we can keep busy, chat and sometimes argue in nature. It’s 100 percent the cure for everything. And time for me? That is certainly essential, but I need very little of it. The main thing is that I get a good cup of coffee and a comfortable armchair. It doesn’t have to take long, but once a day is a must. “
Jamie: “I think we are very similar there. The simple things make us both very happy. Sorry, you don’t drink alcohol, darling. But coffee, chocolate, women’s magazines work wonders. And my foot massages. To this day I don’t know why my hands are so special. It would be much easier to order a masseur on a regular basis. “
You celebrated your 20th wedding anniversary last year. What was your best time? Or is it still to come?
Jools: “I would love to say that the best for us is yet to come. But the highlight of our 20 years together so far has definitely been the children. They are our one and only and the core of our daily decisions and plans. “
Jamie: “The first years from 27 to 37 were great. We were wild and young. The time 40 to 45 was very tough. I hope our next 50 years will be magical. And even funnier. I would still like to wait a little longer for the grandchildren. “
Jools: “Jamie and I are best friends first and foremost. I’m the fun one and he’s the positive one, lucky one. We are a very good team. “