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Jamie Oliver
The Return of the Naked Chef

Published in the UK by Michael Joseph 20 pounds

By: Emma Lewis

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Jaime Oliver at the tender age of 24 has already captured the imagination of the British with the publication of The Naked Chef (5 months on the bestseller lists) and it’s accompanying TV series.  Many column inches have been devoted to the cheeky Essex chef, his exuberant peppering of speech with words like ‘pukka’, ‘tasty’ ‘lovely’ and his appeal to members of the opposite sex. His wedding this summer no doubt broke thousands of hearts – a good-looking man who can cook!

Behind the hype however, there is no doubting that Oliver is a great chef.  While the book is full of exuberant exclamations, which can become repetitive especially for those not acquainted with Southern English slang, the recipes themselves are anything but dull.  Oliver is heavily influenced by Italian cooking, he worked in London’s famous River Café and the book owes much to seminal cookbook which was published by River Café owners Ruth Rogers and Rose Grey. Like the earlier book much emphasis goes on using a few, fresh ingredients and cooking them simply to great effect.  There is no messing around reducing four different sauces while intricately cutting vegetables, frying meat and ensuring the side dish is on track. Recipes are simply and stylishly laid out on the page and there are rarely more than four steps to any dish. 

The photography is great and most recipes’ leap off the page wanting to be cooked. Jaime being the celebrity he is, the book is also something of a lifestyle bible with glimpses of him hanging out with friends. You get a chance to look at his charmed life and cook his wonderful food.

Sections include breakfasts, salads, meat, poultry, pasta and risotto, puddings and with the help of superbartender Dick Bradsell, a drinks section. Italian cooking may feature strongly inspiring dishes such as tagliatelle with saffron seafood and cream or mixed leaf salad with mint, peach and prosciutto, but traditional English also makes an appearance in fry-up for breakfast, various roast meats and a delicious fish pie.  Asia food is also included, fish baked in banana leaf makes an unusual and tasty dish, as does tortellini cooked and then fried to resemble Japanese gyoza dumplings.  The cooking is simple, the explanations concise and Oliver writes as if discussing the food with his best mate.  The informal style encourages experiment and a number of basic marinades and sauces are included as well as hints at the end of some recipes. 

Few recipe books combine easy to follow recipe suggestions with tasty and sometimes unusual cooking.  This is not a chefs cooking book and those looking for intricate recipes will be disappointed, but it’s a great unpretentious home cooking bible that will find a place on many people’s shelves.

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Email: Emma Lewis

After completing a degree in Anthropology at the University 
of Edinburgh and traveling extensively across Africa, Asia and the Middle East Emma Lewis settled down working for a publishing house in London. The travel bug loomed again and she set off with her boyfriend in tow to live in Singapore, and explore the surrounding region. Emma's great hobby is food, she equally enjoys cooking and having food cooked for her in restaurants and she has taken a number of cooking courses to help her on my way. (More about this writer).


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