Making sure he doesn’t whip up a storm! Jamie Oliver employs ‘offence advisers’ to vet his recipes and stop him being accused of cultural appropriation
- Jamie Oliver said he has employed ‘teams of cultural appropriation specialists’
- He said his first reaction to accusations was to say ‘for the love of God, really’
- But the celebrity chef said he also did not want to offend anyone with his recipes
- In 2018, Oliver was accused of cultural appropriation for his ‘punchy jerk rice’
Jamie Oliver has revealed he employs ‘offence advisers’ to vet his recipes to avoid being accused of cultural appropriation.
The celebrity chef, 46, said his ‘Empire roast chicken’ recipe from 2012 would probably not be acceptable today despite it being a ‘bloody good recipe’.
Talking about receiving accusations of cultural appropriation, he told the Sunday Times Culture magazine: ‘Your immediate reaction is to be defensive and say, “For the love of God, really?” And then you go, “Well, we don’t want to offend anyone”.’
As a result, Oliver said he has employed ‘teams of cultural appropriation specialists’ to avoid accusations of insensitivity.
It comes after Oliver, who has sold 48 million books since 1999, previously sparked controversy with his own versions of traditional recipes.
In 2018, he was accused of cultural appropriation by Labour’s then shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler MP and other social media users for launching ‘punchy jerk rice’.
And in 2014, he enraged West Africans with a Jollof rice recipe on his website causing a huge backlash dubbed ‘Jollofgate’.
Jamie Oliver has revealed he employs ‘offence advisers’ to vet his recipes to avoid being accused of cultural appropriation
French chef Raymond Blanc, the chef patron at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, said if he was to create a recipe from another country, he would speak to people from there first.
‘It is for us professionals to do that in a manner that is not offensive,’ he told the magazine, but also noted accusations of cultural appropriation should not always been seen as a negative, and rather regarded as ‘cultural enrichment’.
He said ‘multiculturalism and cultures’ have been taken around the world for thousands of years, resulting in ‘foods and ideas’ travelling.
Georgina Hayden, a food writer and judge on The Great Cookbook Challenge on Channel 4, said it was ‘essential’ that chefs submerge themselves in a culture to ensure they are ‘respectful and genuine’.
Back in 2018, Dawn Butler, the MP for Brent Central in north west London, picked up on comments from social media about Oliver’s ‘punchy jerk rice’ and joined in with her own criticism.
She suggested Oliver was using the word jerk to increase the sales of his rice and his product was not faithful to the original Caribbean recipe which is usually a marinade for meat.
The Labour MP also suggested the chef ask Levi Roots, the creator of jerk barbeque sauce Reggae Reggae sauce, to teach him about it.
Ms Butler tweeted: ‘#jamieoliver @jamieoliver #jerk I’m just wondering do you know what #Jamaican #jerk actually is?
‘It’s not just a word you put before stuff to sell products. @levirootsmusic should do a masterclass. Your jerk Rice is not ok. This appropriation from Jamaica needs to stop.’
Jerk can refer to a type of cooking which involves marinating meat in a jerk spice mixture, or the marinade itself. It originated in Jamaica.
The spice mix itself primarily uses allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers – neither of which were listed on the ingredients list for Oliver’s product – alongside others.
Oliver defended the name of the ready meal in a statement after Caribbean chef Rustie Lee claimed the recipe had ‘nothing to do with jerk’.
In 2018, Oliver was accused of cultural appropriation by Labour’s then shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler MP and other social media users for launching ‘punchy jerk rice’
In 2014, Oliver enraged West Africans with a Jollof recipe and was criticised for his use of cherry tomatoes on the vine, when Jollof rice is traditionally made with blended tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers.
The Motley Musings blogger said at the time: ‘We have to ask ourselves who actually benefits from Jamie Oliver’s “appreciation” of Jollof rice. This doesn’t necessarily translate into value for Africans.
‘For so long, different African cultures have been appropriated without any direct benefit to Africans themselves, and people are particularly sensitive to this.’
Critic Jonathan Meades previously said chefs should not fear offending ‘the guardians of authenticity,’ arguing, ‘without cultural appropriation there is only stagnation.’
Oliver is not the first chef to have been accused of cultural appropriation.
In 2019, Gordon Ramsay became embroiled in a row with food writer Angela Hui, accusing her of a ‘slew of derogatory and offensive social media posts’ after she accused him of cultural appropriation over his ‘fake Chinese’ restaurant Lucky Cat in Mayfair.
In 2019, Gordon Ramsay hit back at a critic after she accused him of cultural appropriation over his ‘fake Chinese’ restaurant Lucky Cat in Mayfair. In 2017 Nigella Lawson faced derision from Italian chefs when she unveiled her recipe for carbonara featuring cream instead of raw eggs.
Writing for the London Eater website, she posted a scathing review calling his venture ‘nothing if not a real life Ramsay kitchen nightmare’, adding: ‘I was the only east Asian person in a room full of 30-40 journalists and chefs.’
But Ramsay took exception at social media messages allegedly sent by Ms Hui in which she targeted the partner of executive chef Ben Orpwood, calling her a ‘token Asian wife’.
Ramsay said: ‘The slew of derogatory and offensive social media posts that appeared on Angela Hui’s social channels, were not professional.’
In 2017 Nigella Lawson faced derision from Italian chefs when she unveiled her recipe for carbonara featuring cream instead of raw eggs.
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