Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Thursday 27th March 2003


ES Magazine - 28th March 2003

When I first saw Emmanuele Beart in Mission: Impossible I immediately thought of Jamie Oliver. She didn't look like a typical French actress. Rather, she resembled a Hollywood starlet who'd been surgically-enhanced to make herself look like a French actress. That is to say, she seemed fake even though she was the real McCoy. The same is true of Jamie Oliver. He appears to be an ex-public school boy trying to pass himself off as a bit of a lad--much like Guy Ritchie--yet in reality he was brought up in Essex, his parents own a pub and he left school at 16.

At first, the fact that he was such a caricature of a cheeky chappy worked to his advantage. In contrast to all the other celebrity chefs, he was down-to-earth and unpretentious, a "diamond geezer", as he might put it. In fairly short order, however, his lovable cockney routine got very tired. He was less like an informal version of Nigel Slater than a younger, more irritating version of Nigel Kennedy. Even if he was 100% genuine, he seemed completely inauthentic.

That's where Fifteen comes in. As an exercise in re-branding, Fifteen is a PR masterstroke. I'm not talking about the fact that it enables Jamie to present himself as a public-spirited humanitarian, anxious to "give something back". That's just a fig leaf. What's great about Fifteen--both the restaurant and the accompanying TV series on Channel Four--is that it provides Jamie with a perfect excuse to be a bit of a bastard. He can admonish and chastise his trainee chefs because, after all, it's for their own good. From being the man everyone loved to hate, Jamie has transformed himself into a master of tough love. He no longer seems like this annoying little puppy, over-anxious to be petted and taken for walks. Suddenly, he's a grown up.

Is the restaurant real, though? Or is it just a cleverly-constructed façade designed by Jamie's team of TV producers, press agents, image consultants, etc? This answer is that, like the man himself, it's both. It serves real food and there's a real waiting list to get a table--three months at last count--yet there's something weirdly inauthentic about it. I kept turning round, hoping to catch a Channel Four cameraman darting behind a pillar. Almost without exception, the customers are day-trippers anxious to sneak a peak at a place they've only seen on telly. They look about in wonder, not quite believing they're there, as if they'd stumbled across a real-life version of the Bull, the fictional pub in The Archers. Fifteen isn't located in Shoreditch, as Channel Four would have us believe. Rather, it's in Jamieland.

So what's the food like in this restaurant equivalent of Madam Tussaud's? Pretty good, as a matter of fact. I had a crab and linguini starter that would have passed muster in one of Gordon Ramsay's establishments followed by an excellent fillet of beef poached in Barossa Merlot. But then again it wasn't cooked by any of the trainees Jamie's supposedly got working in the kitchen. On the day I was there, only three of the trainees were in situ. The rest had gone on a fact-finding trip to Chiantishire. Far from being an amateurish, charitable affair, Fifteen is a professionally-run restaurant with properly qualified chefs. Yet it's not a compete con job. When I asked the Manager to tell me exactly who had cooked the meals my friend and I had just eaten, he said that one of the trainees "might have" produced my companion's starter.

On balance, I quite enjoyed my trip to Jamieland. The staff were "triffic", the food was "blindin'" and it was cheaper than a trip to Florida--but only just. On the strength of its success, I recommend that Carlton build a real Crossroads Motel and the BBC set up a genuine pub called the Queen Vic. With a bit of luck, they can even get Jamie's parents to run it.

[ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share

Twitter RT @QuilletteM: "...genetics provides most of the systematic variation between us, environmental effects are random, & our chosen environme…  (4 hours ago)


The shocking truth about Jordan Peterson by Wesley Yang -
The intellectual dark web by Bari Weiss -
How identity politics is harming the sciences by Heather Mac Donald -
The fall of the German Empire by Ross Douthat -
How Tom Wolfe became Tom Wolfe by Michael Lewis - Vanity Fair
The neuro-diversity case for free speech by Geoffrey Miller -
The Age of Outrage by Jonathan Haidt -
The Warlock Hunt by Claire Berlinski -
Is classical liberalism conservative? by Yarom Hazony -
The Implosion of Western Liberalism by Patrick Lee Miller -
The Eton of the East End - Daily Mail
The reactionary temptation by Andrew Sullivan -
The book that scandalised New York intellectuals by Louis Menand -
To understand Britain today, look to the 17th Century by Adrian Wooldridge -
The crisis in France by Christopher Caldwell -
A Visit to Michaela School by Patrick Alexander -
Why parenting may not matter by Brian Boutwell -
Trump Establishment's Cultural Significance Explained by Michael Wolff -
Branching histories of the 2016 referendum by Dominic Cummings -
Putin's Real Long Game by Molly K McKew -
The Flight 93 Election by Publius Decius Mus -
How the education gap is tearing politics apart by David Runciman -
What's wrong with identity politics by Graeme Archer -
Grammars and the grain of truth by Jonathan Porter
Anti-Brexit: Britain's new class war by John O'Sullivan -
The English Revolt by Robert Tombs -
Democracies end when they are too democratic by Andrew Sullivan -
Human beings really are making progress by Steven Pinker -
What ISIS really wants by Graeme Wood -
A society ripe for Submission by Douglas Murray -
Why I'm a Conservative Teacher by Jonathan Porter -
Corbyn's Inconvenient Truth – He wanted the IRA to win -
Why I've become Tory scum by Tony Parsons -
Inside Westminster's free school -
Robert Conquest obit -
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite – it's so much worse than that -


Andrew Lilico
Andrew Sullivan
Arts and Letters Daily
Bagehot's Notebook
BBC News
BBC Sport
Benedict Brogan
Brendan O'Neill
Bruce Anderson
Coffee House
Conservative Home
Damian McBride
Damian Thompson
Dan Hodges
Daniel Hannon
Ed West
Frank Furedi
Guido Fawkes
Harry Phibbs
Iain Dale
Iain Martin
James Delingpole
James Wolcott
Joe Murphy
John Rentoul
Labour List
Mark Steyn
Matt Drudge
Mehdi Hasan
Melanie Phillips
Michael Wolff
Nick Cohen
Nick Robinson
Nikki Finke
Paul Waugh
Peter Hitchens
Political Betting
Right Minds
Rob Long
Rod Liddle
Sophy Ridge
Stephen Pollard
The Arts Desk
The Corner
The Daily Beast
The First Post
The Omnivore
The Onion
Tim Shipman
Tim Stanley
Tom Shone


AA Gill
Aidan Hartley
Allison Pearson
Allister Heath
AO Scott
Boris Johnson
Charles Moore
Cosmo Landesman
Daniel Finkelstein
David Brooks
Fraser Nelson
George Monbiot
Giles Coren
Henry Winter
James Delingpole
Jan Moir
Janan Ganesh
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Warner
Jim White
Jonathan Freedland
Lloyd Evans
Manohla Dargis
Martin Samuel
Mary Ann Sieghart
Matthew d'Ancona
Matthew Norman
Maureen Dowd
Michiko Kakutani
Owen Jones
Patrick O'Flynn
Paul Krugman
Peter Bradshaw
Peter Oborne
Philip Collins
Polly Toynbee
Quentin Letts
Rachel Johnson
Rod Liddle
Roy Greenslade
Tim Montgomerie
Trevor Kavanagh
UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on

  • Buy the book on

  • UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on

  • Buy the book on

  • Audio Book Cover

  • Buy the audio book from
    Whole Story Audio
  • DVD Cover

  • Buy the DVD from

  • Buy the DVD from

  • IMdb Page on the film