British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has revealed that he hires “teams of cultural appropriation specialists” for his cookbooks to avoid offending readers.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, the 46-year-old cookbook author said he has experts vetting his recipes before they are published in his books.
“Your immediate reaction is to be defensive and say, ‘For the love of God, really?’ And then we go, ‘Well, we don’t want to offend anyone,'” he was quoted as saying.
On Monday, a representative for Oliver told CNN that “food is all about sharing inspiration from around the world, and we’re proud to work with some incredible experts to continue to learn about different cuisines and to help us deliver content that is culturally sensitive and inclusive.”
The revelation follows a string of controversies sparked by Oliver throughout the years for creating questionable interpretations of traditional recipes.
In 2020, Oliver’s “egg fried rice” was ridiculed on social media by Malaysian comedian Nigel Ng of “Uncle Roger” fame, as NextShark previously reported.
The celebrity chef’s “punchy jerk rice” drew heavy online criticism in 2018 for not containing many of the ingredients traditionally used in a Jamaican jerk marinade.
#jamieoliver @jamieoliver #jerk I’m just wondering do you know what #Jamaican #jerk actually is? It’s not just a word you put before stuff to sell products. @levirootsmusic should do a masterclass. Your jerk Rice is not ok. This appropriation from Jamaica needs to stop.
— Dawn Butler MP✊🏾💙 (@DawnButlerBrent) August 18, 2018
Back in 2014, Oliver’s “Jollof rice” recipe angered West Africans, who dubbed the controversy “JollofGate” on social media.
According to Oliver, many readers would now find at least one of the recipes from his 2011 cookbook “Jamie’s Great Britain” inappropriate; for example, the Indian-inspired “empire roast chicken,” which he made with coriander, turmeric, garam masala and cumin.
The 2011 cookbook even has a tie-in TV series which showed Oliver preparing the dish in the episode “Empire roast chicken, Bombay roasties and amazing Indian gravy.”
Among the episode’s questionable moments include the celebrity chef’s celebration of Britain’s “Indian love affair” with the creation of a “full-on collision between beautiful British roast dinners and gutsy Asian spices.”
Oliver also acknowledged the “trade routes” that he said paved the way for the arrival of Indian spices into British dishes.
“This is empire food, you can use your hands,” he said before raising a toast “to the empire” with his crew. Oliver’s website later changed the recipe’s name to “spiced roast chicken.”
Oliver, who has had a successful TV career as host of BBC’s “The Naked Chef,” has written multiple cookbooks which have sold over 46 million copies globally.
Featured Image via Jamie Oliver