Jamie Oliver's Italian job ... and his Bullring pasta
The TV chef tells Richard McComb that his Bullring pasta is impossible to resist as his latest Mediterranean venture prepares to open in the city.
In a few weeks’ time, Brummies will be able to feast on bresaola and rainbow beet salad, stuffed Ascolana olives and Amalfi lemon curd with toasted pistachios.
But whatever you do, says Jamie Oliver, don’t forget to try his Bullring pasta.
Pining down the chef, global TV star and food campaigner for an interview isn’t the easiest thing in the world. We catch up for a chat as he is being whisked from an engagement at a school to Fifteen, his flagship London restaurant. He works tirelessly, even if he is tired. Knackered, in fact.
Jamie and wife Jools now have four children – three girls and a son, Buddy Bear, who is only a few weeks’ old. Buddy is sleeping brilliantly, just not when his parents want him to.
Bleary-eyed Jamie says: “He’s doing fine because he’s having a lovely time. He’s asleep all day – and up all night. I’m not going to lie, it’s exhausting at the moment.
“It’s a bit like torture and I’ve never been busier. Poor old mum’s knackered and I’m doing my best. But I won’t expect you to get the violins out.”
We are talking in advance of the opening of his newest restaurant, Jamie’s Italian in Birmingham, on November 8. It will be the 15th – and biggest – in his brand of Italian restaurants, established to reflect his love of rustic dishes and informal dining. Occupying the huge former Borders site, the restaurant will seat no less than 270 customers.
Jamie says: “This is a real epic achievement for us. It sounds glamorous saying 270 covers and it is lovely. But you have to have so much in place to deliver that and you need a venue that can handle it and is well laid out.”
He describes the Birmingham venue’s head chef, former forces’ cook Ryan Edge, as “bullet-proof,” adding: “He’ll need to be because this will be a busy, busy restaurant. It will be buzzing if we do our job properly.”
The restaurant will offer contemporary, modern Italian food made from high quality produce, the chef pledges.
He says: “There are good restaurants in Birmingham but what I have tried to do is come up with something that is great value.
“Our average spend per head is still £17-£20. All of our pasta is made on site 12 hours a day. That’s what we’re famous for. All our antipasti is sliced to order. It’s beautifully sourced food.”
Jamie says he wants to appeal across the board to diners, from hungry 12-year-olds with a “tenner in their back pocket” to pensioners seeking a flavour of la dolce vita.
Then there is the appeal of the place to amorous couples.