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Jamie Oliver’s new book is a ‘real celebration of great food’

Oliver talks about his recently released cookbook, ‘Together’, his 25th publication, and why this one is particularly good for cooking for a crowd

11 November 2021 - 10:11
Celeb chef Jamie Oliver says his new book is "about more than food – it’s about making memories". File photo.
Celeb chef Jamie Oliver says his new book is "about more than food – it’s about making memories". File photo.
Image: GP Images/WireImage via Getty Images

What’s so special about your new book Together?

I mean, the word Together just conjures up so much feeling now, doesn’t it? It’s what we’ve all missed and longed for — to be with our family, friends and community again after all the events over the past year.  My new book is a real celebration of great food that you can share with your loved ones. But it’s about more than food — it’s about making memories.

Who is this book for?

I really hope that this book is for everyone. I set out to write a range of different meals, some familiar, some surprising, some intimate, some for more of a crowd. From picnics and alfresco eats to cosy autumnal fare and just classics that we all love, like curry or steak night or a lovely brunch party with your friends.

What would you like people to take from it?

For me, I think the most important message is that food can be a fantastic excuse to just get all your favourite people around the table, together. And that entertaining or cooking for others doesn’t have to be stressful.

What makes this book different from your previous ones?

My actual writing style in this book is quite unique.  I’ve structured the recipes into three categories — ‘get ahead’, ‘on the day’ and ‘to serve’ — making it really clear exactly how to approach each recipe. I’m also really excited about the photography. I worked with three of my favourite photographers and we’ve been much more indulgent on the amount of pictures that have made it into the book, which means it’s a really good one to flick through with a cuppa and your feet up. The family pop up a few times, too, which is always fun.

Your son Buddy is a great little chef himself. Does he enjoy helping out when preparing for a family get-together?

Buddy is such an asset in the kitchen and he’s been getting amongst it since he was really little. His knife skills are getting really good now. He’s always happy to help out, and to be honest, all the kids have had their moments. Poppy and Daisy are out doing their own thing a lot now but when they were young they’d always be picking herbs and helping with jobs here and there — Petal’s the same. And River, well if there’s music playing and he can dance while he helps you, he’s there!

For an impromptu meal with friends and family, which dish do you always turn to for something quick and delicious that will still impress your guests?

I don’t think you can go far wrong with a roast chicken, and there’s so much you can do with them, so many different ways you can go on the flavour front. Also, the oven does all the hard work, so that always helps. I’ve put a last-minute style feast in the books actually that’s Italian inspired and a really easy principle to follow.

For starters, you jazz up a load of those shop-bought antipasti, creating an epic spread, then I’ve done a really simply yet elegant pasta for main, using one of my favourite shortcuts — cutting up fresh lasagne sheets to mimic fresh pasta. It’s such a good timesave. A nice cocktail or two, and you’re onto a winner.

• 'Together' by Jamie Oliver is published by Penguin Random House ©Jamie Oliver Enterprises Ltd (2021 Together) and is available in local bookstores for R445.