Finding humour when Zoom goes kaboom during recent interview with Jamie Oliver


Every year we look forward to catching up with the famed foodie, Jamie Oliver, which I recently did via a Zoom call to his offices in the U.K.

But things went sideways almost immediately. After testing my system, my screen came alive with a smiling Jamie in his work kitchen, but to my horror – no sound came out of his mouth. For a moment I thought I was having an aneurysm as I couldn’t hear a thing he was saying!

Of course, panic quickly set in as my laptop has never failed me before, but there I was, frantic, shouting at the screen and trying not to look like a deer in the headlights.

At one point, I held up a handwritten sign stating “Nothing is Working!” to which Oliver laughed – silently, of course.

We improvised, and his team gave me a call on my iPhone. I jotted down notes as he spoke, all the while looking at Oliver’s animated face on my screen. He was gracious in mentioning computer glitches do happen, meanwhile I kept muttering dark thoughts, hoping Oliver couldn’t read lips at this point.

In the end, it all worked out, with Oliver sharing his thoughts and ideas on everything from his family to his food passions to looking forward to returning to Canada soon.

Oliver, considered a culinary institution, shared how his world today revolves around his wife, Jools, and his five children – one, 11-year-old Buddy, seems to be giving Oliver a run for his money as a rising food star in his own right. Buddy appears in many social media and YouTube videos creating dishes with a deftness of hand that makes his dad mighty proud.

“I love all my kids (but) Buddy is a natural communicator,” said Oliver, adding he would never encourage or discourage any of his children to follow in his footsteps but do “whatever makes them happy.”

On his latest food trends, Oliver says he’s fascinated by “the flavours of the Middle East,” and the cuisines of such countries as Lebanon, saying everyone should be encouraged out of their comfort zone “and just try something new.”

On the subject of rising food costs, Oliver admits the cost of energy and inflation is impacting on people’s grocery budget, and he says more emphasis should be put on such foods as “beans, pulses, legumes,” that are not only delicious but are packed with nutrients and goodness as well as being easy on the budget.

Oliver is also celebrating his latest book, ONE, (HarperCollins Canada), a book rich in colour and flavourful recipes that only take one pan to create – and dedicated to his wife, Jools. ONE offers just that in a selection of no-fuss recipes for quick meals. All one needs is one pot, pan or tray. Here’s a selection from ONE perfect for holiday celebrations.

Honey Orange Traycake

“My dear Nan loved a traybaked sponge…I think she would have really liked this one,” wrote Oliver in his cookbook of this delicious blend of almonds, vanilla, yogurt. Serves 12

Olive oil

2 large oranges or blood oranges

2/3 cup liquid honey

1-1/2 cups ground almonds

1-1/2 cups self-raising flour

3/4 cup Greek yogurt

2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

2 large free-range eggs

Optional: rose water

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12 by 8-inch roasting tray with a sheet of parchment paper then rub it with olive oil. Finely grate orange zest into a large bowl and put aside, then take your time to very finely slice 1 orange into rounds. Layer it into the tray, drizzle with 1/3 cup honey and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add almonds, flour, yogurt and vanilla paste to bowl of orange zest. Crack in eggs, add 3/4 cup plus 5 tsps. olive oil, a small pinch of sea salt, the remaining 1/3 cup honey and a small thimble of rose water, if using. Whisk together well.

Remove tray from oven, gently pour cake batter over orange slices, and return to oven for 35 minutes, or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Turn cake out on to a board, and carefully peel away parchment. Nice served warm with a dollop of yogurt or custard.


Buddy’s Pasta Bake

Jamie Oliver’s young son, Buddy, is giving his old man a run for the money! The young lad is a natural in the kitchen and on screen, here Buddy takes broccoli and serves it in a cheesy sauce with garlic bread crispy bits. Serves 8.

2 heads of broccoli (13 oz. each)

4 cloves garlic

Olive oil

1/2–1 tsp. dried red chilli flakes

6 cups 2% milk

3-1/2 oz. baby spinach

3-1/2 oz. Cheddar cheese

1 lb. dried pasta shells

3-1/2 oz. garlic bread

Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut off and discard tough ends of broccoli stalks, trim green florets into 1-1/4 inch pieces and put aside, then roughly chop all remaining stalks and place in a food processor. Peel and add garlic, then blitz until fine.

Place a large shallow casserole pan on a medium heat. Once hot, add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and chilli flakes, to taste. As soon as they start to sizzle, add blitzed broccoli stalks. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally; pour in 2 cups of milk. Pour remaining 4 cups of milk into processor with spinach and crumble in cheese (You can add extra if you like.)

Blitz until smooth, pour into pan, then bring to a boil and season to perfection. Stir broccoli florets and pasta shells into sauce and boil for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Tear garlic bread into and blitz into crumbs. Sprinkle over pasta bake and transfer to oven for 15 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.