Jamie Oliver is opening his first restaurant, in London’s East End. And to prove his conviction that it’s a passion for food not academic qualifications that makes a good cook, he’s training 15 unemployed youngsters to work as chefs in the kitchen. All within seven months.
And he’s picked a busy year. He’s writing a new book, has business trips to Japan and the States, has a host of other commitments, and most importantly of all, is about to become a dad. He’s taking a big risk. Regardless of whether the trainee chefs can handle it – can Jamie?
It doesn’t take him long to realise that he may have bitten off more than he can chew. None of the wannabes feels like a chef of the future. All they know about food is spaghetti bolognaise and pizza. And none of them seem to have the passion he was expecting.
Having finally chosen 15 trainees, the first few weeks are hardly plain sailing. One is suspended and sent to anger management training, several have unacceptable attendance records and another leaves. And 11 out of 15 fail their first exam. The trainees can only get better – and they do. But will they cut the mustard by the time the restaurant opens for business?
And will the restaurant actually open for business? With costs spiralling out of control, and planning problems threatening to jeopardise the whole project, Jamie needs to keep his eager team motivated and cooking. Will they cope with a nerve-racking lunch for food critics and top chefs? Deadlines are getting tight, Jamie is getting closer and closer to the edge, and the trainee chefs are desperate to get into ‘their’ restaurant for the chance, finally, to prove themselves and repay Jamie’s faith in them. After seven months that have changed their lives they’ve got nothing to lose. Which is more than you can say for Jamie.
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