London - Jamie Oliver has launched a withering attack on lazy young British workers, claiming that without his “tougher” immigrant staff his restaurant empire would grind to a halt.
Having built up a £150-million fortune and a reputation as one of the world’s most successful chefs, Oliver now employs more than 350 chefs in restaurants across the UK and abroad, including Fifteen, which helps unemployed young adults get a start in the trade.
But the 38-year-old celebrity chef, who worked his way up from the kitchen in his father’s Essex pub, has revealed his frustration at the lack of drive shown by work-shy Britons and says that relying on them would force his restaurants to close.
He said: “The average working hours in a week was 80 to 100 – that was really normal in my 20s. But the EU regulation now is 48 hours, which is half a week’s work for me. And they still whinge about it!
“British kids particularly, I have never seen anything so wet behind the ears. I have mommies phoning up for 23-year-olds saying to me, ‘My son is too tired.’ On a 48-hour-week! Are you having a laugh?
“I think our European immigrant friends are much stronger, much tougher. If we didn’t have any, all of my restaurants would close tomorrow. There wouldn’t be any Brits to replace them.”
The father of four runs more than 30 UK branches of Jamie’s Italian restaurants, which he is currently expanding abroad, as well as Jamie Oliver’s Diner, Barbecoa and the Union Jacks chain, and claims he was working 15-hour days in his father’s pub by the time he was 13.
He added: “It’s all very well when people are slagging off immigration, and I’m sure there are problems. And older people always complain about youth. The young will be better at different things, but long hours in hot kitchens is not one of them!
“I was a bit of a workaholic. But I was brought up like that.”
The campaigning chef whose new TV show, Jamie’s Money Saving Meals, starts next week, sparked more controversy this week after claiming he found it “hard to talk about modern-day poverty”, citing poor families who fork out on giant televisions and expensive ready meals instead of cooking cheap but healthy food from scratch.
The chef, who has also fought to improve standards in school dinners, said: “I’m not judgmental, but I’ve spent a lot of time in poor communities and I find it quite hard to talk about modern-day poverty.”
Oliver’s comments about British workers came in a joint interview with fellow TV cook Mary Berry. Speaking about his admiration for The Great British Bake Off judge, he said: “Mary has always done it very naturally. Our job essentially is to be a Tom Tom or sat-nav of a recipe. You want people to get there in the safest way and with guaranteed pleasure.”
He also claimed in the interview that he has not ruled out having a fifth child with his wife, 38-year-old Jools, saying: “Jools would love another baby. I don’t know if I can handle it, but she is the boss. Whatever she wants, she will get.”
He added: “I love her to bits. She is amazing and the best mom in the world. She is fit, she has willpower and never drinks any alcohol. I have tried to get her drunk so many times!”
The interview is published in the October issue of Good Housekeeping, on sale on September 5. - Daily Mail