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Fitness & Health

08th May 2018

Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef broke gender stereotypes and was a ‘real moment for women in Britain’

Oliver's show The Naked Chef made him an overnight sensation

Wayne Farry

‘It was a real moment for Britain’

Jamie Oliver’s breakthrough series The Naked Chef made him an overnight household name across Britain, teaching young men it was finally cool to learn to cook for yourself.

Now Oliver says that getting British men into the kitchen helped a generation of British women to focus on their own lives and break out of rigid gender stereotypes.

Appearing on Unfiltered with James O’Brien, Jamie Oliver spoke of the breakthrough he believes his show created in the late 90s.

“Being philosophical about it, when I look back at it now, with everything that I’ve learned, it was a real moment for Britain,” the campaigning chef explained.

“It was a real moment for women in Britain, and it was a real moment for food.”

A younger Oliver taught a generation of men to cook, coming in the wake of the Britpop explosion and Tony Blair’s new-Labour, he rode in on his moped to tell men how to make a classic carbonara.

“When I say a moment for women, 30 years before there was way less women going to work, and women were going to work.”

“But what was happening was after a 10, 12, 13-hour day…they’d all get home, and then men across Britain would look at their wives and say, ‘What’s for dinner?’”

“And girls across Britain were going, ‘We’re both knackered,’ right? So then the rhetoric is, ‘Well, who’s going to cook what?’ And it was pushing on the women still, or you’ve got the convenience option.

“So that’s where Britain was at. And then, obviously The Naked Chef was about, ‘Well, if that over-enthusiastic young kid can do it then anyone can.’”

The young Jamie Oliver had broken with the normal conventions of cooking shows, using his hands to tear up herbs and constructing simple meals with episodes themed around hen parties or babysitting.

“One of the first things I did with The Naked Chef was it wasn’t in chef whites,” he explains.

“A lot of TV cooking at the time was chefs, Michelin stars, chef’s jackets, chef’s hats. And I kinda felt that the uniform possibly rightfully so, but definitely with other experts like pilots and surgeons and doctors, it felt like an expertise dividing the public.”

“I think my youth was a real benefit, and I think the food was easy, simple and tasty and contemporary, or felt that way.”