Jamie Oliver calls restaurant collapse a minor blip and says failure has made him better

Written by on 14 October 2022

Jamie Oliver calls restaurant collapse a ‘minor blip’ – and says failure has made him better

Jamie Oliver says he has learned from the collapse of his restaurant chain in 2019 – and is ready “to go again” after the “minor blip”, as he launches a new delivery-only pasta service.

The celebrity chef’s restaurant chain suffered 22 closures and about 1,000 job losses. When asked if he’d learned from what happened, Oliver says: “Yeah, for sure, and every other failure that I’ve had – which is about 50%. But I’ve never been more rounded, I’ve never been more experienced.

“It happens, and I would call it a minor blip really, in the vision and the dream. A very painful one. But definitely, I’m better for it.

“We had 13 amazing years and learned loads. I was a young man when I started, I’m much older and wiser now,” adds the 47-year-old father-of-five.

It was perhaps only a matter of time before a big name chef joined the delivery revolution and the growing ‘ghost kitchen’ trend (operating purely for collection and delivery). Oliver’s new venture, Pasta Dreams, with delivery-first restaurant group Taster, will see his Italian-inspired dishes available on Uber Eats, Deliveroo and other platforms.

But don’t be surprised if you see a Jamie Oliver restaurant collection in the future again too. “We’re really well positioned to go again, and we will go again and I will go back to restaurants again, as soon as I can,” he says.

“It’s in my blood, it’s really all I know. It was never a size problem, it was rent and rates that got us really, and high street decline.”

Starting with two pop-up spaces – in London’s Soho and Paris – Oliver has ambitious plans for the Pasta Dreams service to be rolled out across London and other UK cities at a rate of two sites a month.

Pasta felt like the “natural” choice for Oliver to build a delivery brand around. “It’s something I’ve done nearly every day for 30 years,” he says.

And the public may see elements of the old Jamie’s Italian chain in it: “Because ultimately, it’s from me and my palate. No matter what I do, there’s a little bit of JI [Jamie’s Italian], in a way. JI was just part of me.

“But it’s definitely different,” he adds of the new venture. “The service behind the scenes has finessed. And it’s designed specifically to travel.” And for pasta, he says that’s a challenge.

“Certain things travel well; curries travel well, noodle ramen dishes travel well” – while certain pasta shapes and sauces won’t taste as good after a bumpy 20-minute journey on a bike. “A lot of the combinations that people loved didn’t work or hold out – carbonara is a good example of that.”

So instead, there’s a ‘cacio e pepe x carbonara’ twist that combines two classic dishes, but travels well. While his spaghetti pomodoro “is not the spaghetti that you know” – but chitarra, a square shaped version that allows for better absorption and prevents the dish sticking together.

It’s all made with fresh pasta, with a specific blend of flours and organic eggs. “Fresh pasta doesn’t go al-dente, dry does. So it’s a more silky, luxurious, comforting experience,” says Oliver . “I’ve never really said ‘secret recipe’, but it is now because I don’t want anyone to copy!”

The menu also includes antipasti, garlic focaccia, salads and tirimisu and is delivered in plastic-free packaging.

With 23 years of TV work and cookbook publishing under his belt, selling more than 48 million books worldwide, Oliver says his job has been to “take something that’s a hard technique as a chef” and adapt it for supermarkets and home cooks – and Pasta Dreams is in the same vein.

“But there’s a lot of ego in it,” he says, and as a chef you need to “put your ego at the door”.

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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