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We may have witnessed the fall of the Jamie Oliver Empire

Illustration for article titled We may have witnessed the fall of the Jamie Oliver Empire
Photo: Ben Pruchnie (Getty Images)

The news that British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s restaurant group has fallen into insolvency is a big deal, especially across the Atlantic, where it’s reportedly knocked Brexit out of the top news spot. The BBC’s reporting uses the word “collapse” to describe the restaurant company’s decline into insolvency, which has already resulted in the closure of nearly all Jamie Oliver’s restaurants. It’s a sad day not just for Oliver, who tweeted as much, but for the roughly 1,000 workers who are out of jobs.

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The company has gone into administration, meaning its remaining finances will be managed by auditors KPMG. Only three restaurants out of 25—the two Jamie’s Italian restaurants and a Gatwick airport location—will remain open for now. I actually ate at one of the Jamie’s Italian restaurants when I was in London a couple years ago. It was fine. International locations of Jamie’s Italian, Jamie’s Pizzeria, and Jamie’s Deli will continue operating as usual.

The company could not secure enough additional investment to remain solvent, despite the BBC’s report that Oliver himself infused more than $5 million into the restaurant group earlier this year.

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Aside from his restaurants, Oliver is well-known internationally as the author of numerous cookbooks and as a vocal proponent of healthier foods, especially school lunches. He’s admitted in past interviews that his campaigns to revolutionize school lunches and childhood nutrition haven’t entirely succeeded, telling The Telegraph: “I admit I haven’t succeeded, mainly because I haven’t single-mindedly gone for it. … In Britain, eating well and feeding your kid right and being aware about food is all considered very posh and middle class.”

Perhaps now he’ll have the bandwidth to turn his full attention to campaigning for better kids’ food.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

“I admit I haven’t succeeded, mainly because I haven’t single-mindedly gone for it. … In Britain, eating well and feeding your kid right and being aware about food is all considered very posh and middle class.”

Have you seen what working-class Brits consider acceptable to define as “sausages”, just for example? “Unspeakable horror” hardly begins to describe it.

Consider that the worst hot dog in an American supermarket still must contain 60 percent lean meat (the remaining 40 percent is water and fat, with no more than 10% water and 30% fat allowed, per the USDA.)

British sausage can contain as little as 32 percent meat (per the BBC). This is why many British “bangers” cost less per kilo than dog food and have a global reputation for tasting like dog food as well. And that’s the stuff British schoolkids are eating, sourced from the lowest bidder.

Maybe we Yanks need to let our former overlords have Michelle Obama on loan.