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Last Updated: Friday, 13 June, 2003, 23:35 GMT 00:35 UK
Oliver's pukka life as chef
Jamie Oliver
Oliver began cooking at his parents' pub
TV chef Jamie Oliver has been honoured with an MBE for his services to the hospitality industry, after turning a group of disadvantaged youngsers into cooks for his restaurant.

The 28-year-old from Essex has brought cookery to a younger generation through his unique and relaxed approach to presenting.

Oliver got his first taste of cooking when he helped out at his parents' pub in Essex, instantly falling in love with the buzz of working in a busy kitchen.

During his school years he continued to help out at weekends, shrugging off friends' comments that "cooking was for girls".

At the age of 16, and focused on a career path, Oliver trained at the Westminster Catering College before heading to France to learn more.

Inimitable style

Arriving back in the UK he was employed as a head pastry chef by Italian cook Antonio Carluccio, before moving to London's River Cafe.

It was here his TV career began after he was spotted in a documentary about the restaurant and signed up by the BBC for his own series called the Naked Chef.

Jools and Jamie Oliver
The Olivers have two daughters
Despite the title, the premise of the show was for a fully-clothed Oliver to demonstrate how food could be tasty without the need for expensive ingredients.

His inimitable style soon made him a household name, becoming synonymous with the words "pukka" and "wicked", and leading to a lucrative advertising deal with Sainsbury's and the sale of millions of recipe books.

Blair's doggy bag

His down-to-earth manner was compounded when he wed school-sweetheart Juliette "Jools" Norton in 2000, and they now have two young daughters.

But after all his success, Oliver embarked on his most ambitious project, to train 15 disadvantaged youngsters to be chefs.

The highs and lows of working with the trainees was documented in a Channel 4 series, which showed the strain Oliver was under as he ploughed his own money into opening his restaurant, Fifteen.

One of Oliver's proudest moments was being invited to cater for the prime minister at an Anglo-Italian summit, with Tony Blair asking for a doggy bag.




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