My husband Peter remarked over dinner that I should try and collaborate with Jamie Oliver. I agreed that would be a dream come true but scoffed it would never happen!
However, the universe must have been listening (or something) because a week later, an email arrived asking if I would join an intimate group of press for a cookery workshop with the ‘Legde’ that is Jamie Oliver, at his restaurant Fifteen.
Not sure I slept that night!
My son Oliver and I were going to get to hang out with Jamie O!
The cookery session’s purpose was to inspire little ones to grow their own herbs and become more proactive in the kitchen, something Jamie is incredibly passionate about. So much so, his very own annual festival, The Big Feastival hosts a ‘Field to Fork’ project every year and this next one in August is focused on the Herb Garden -which will literally be growing in the heart of the festival.
The garden there, will educate and inspire families onsite about common herbs and how to cook with them.
Jamie decided he’d like to bring a bit of the Herb Garden to London with this special session, showing kids how best to cook easy recipes with herbs. How fab is that?!
For those who don’t know (Where’s you been?) The Big Feastival is a weekend of incredible live music, family fun and of course outstanding food and drink taking place at Alex James’ farm in The Cotswolds.
Missed out on Glasto tickets? Well fear not, because the line up for The Big Feastival is equally as impressive with the likes of Mark Ronson, Foxes, DJ Yoda and Tinie Tempah providing a booty-shaking soundtrack to the weekender.
There will also be street food galore, cookery classes, creative workshops and plenty of kids’ entertainment on offer too.
Pretty amazing huh?
Another ingenious idea from the main man Jamie Oliver.
And let’s take a minute to ‘talk’ about Jamie in more detail. Not just a world-renowned TV Chef, he’s also a national treasure (he laughed when I told him that) but he REALLY is, he’s the best mate next door, the one you want to turn to for advice, fun and the best food in town.
My admiration for him is off the chart and to get some time with him, and with my eldest son Oliver too, was one more tick off the ever-growing reach-for-the-stars wishlist.
I’ve been lucky enough as a filmmaker and TV Director to have met some pretty awesome people in my time: Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, fellow alumni from Goldsmiths’ University of London, Sam Taylor Wood and Damien Hirst -and I’ve got a fair few famous mates myself, but meeting Jamie made me feel 15 again and at first, pretty damn star-struck!
I was transported back to the time I attended a Michael Jackson concert in Roundhay Park with my brother Solos and couldn’t sleep a month before.
It all felt a little bit epic and momentous.
Because we’ve all grown up with Jamie haven’t we, we actually feel he’s our bestie, he’s made us collectively become part of his world thanks to his passion, talent and warm personality.
He has, over the many years, brought us into his home and around his table: a friend who’s funny, charming and as genuine as he is brilliant; simpy a livewire you want to be around.
And then, he’s gone one step further, and aside from teaching us all to cook, he’s GONE and made a difference to our very own and our kids’, lives.
A real difference.
He’s put the pukka in to politics campaigning for policies and initiatives to help families eat better, he’s actually created change.
From his ‘Feed Me Better’ campaign to encourage school children to cut out junk to his most recent, successful lobbying to get the Government to impose a tax on sugary food and drink, Jamie makes a difference in whatever he does.
I thanked him for all this and he humbly replied, ‘You know, I can’t stay quiet on the things that matter’.
What a dude.
I also told him how much I admire his incredible wife Jools.
Her book, ‘Minus Nine to One: The Diary of An Honest Mum’ had such a profound effect on me when I was pregnant with my first child, I was even inspired to name this site Honest Mum after it.
Jools wrote unflinchingly from the heart, so candidly and with such warmth about what it meant to be pregnant and go through labour- she made us mums-to-be and first time parents feel less alone and quite frankly, understood.
It was a privilege to pass on my thoughts about her book to Jamie and witness the massive love and pride he has for his wife as we chatted.
It’s exactly how I imagine my husband Peter feels when he talks about me ( * insert cute smiling emoticon)!
Jamie mentioned he’s encouraging Jools to write another book, an update, nearly 5 babies later too. How amazing would that be?! If you’re reading Jools, please do write it, we all want to read it!
But back to beginning of the day-travelling to London with my son Oliver, 6, was an absolute treat. Getting Mama-son time, just the two of us was so special, particularly as it’s so rare these days. No little Xander, 3, clambering on top of me, no divided attention, just the two of us, my firstborn and I, ready for an adventure in the big city!
Oliver’s school had allowed him an educational day off site and boy was it an education.
Arriving at Fifteen and making our way to the top floor, we both felt excited and a little nervous. It was lovely to meet Clemmie from Mother of Daughters and connect with the other wonderful women invited as well: Helen Rumbelow, Features Writer from The Times, Dolly Jones, Digital Strategy Director at CondeNaste, Kirsty Spence, Food Editor at Fabulous Magazine and their children too.
As we took in the bright and pretty surroundings upstairs where Jamie shoots a lot of his YT videos, Oliver kept asking me over and over again if Jamie had arrived yet.
We’d watched his Food Tube videos together on the train down and Oliver was well aware of who we were about to meet (and quite how cool he is)!
As soon as I caught sight of Jamie I did that ‘eyes out of my head cartoon thing’ #socool but quickly got to vlogging in between snapping insta/fb pics and for the most part, all whilst Oliver was sat on my knee watching Jamie cook #supermum #onlysometimes #mostlytired.
Watching the captivating Jamie was well worth the wobbly knees though.
It was a bit like being at Robbie Williams concert.
Jamie has such a presence and charisma. Of course he has.
We all know that, but seeing him in front of our eyes was something else. We were watching in 3D, baby!
Jamie was up there doing what he loves-cooking and teaching kids to eat well: what a wonderful hip-shaking force of a man (he likes to shake while he cooks)!
What a whirlwind of an hour it was too.
Soon the kids were washing their hands and under our watchful eyes, chopping tomatoes (a first for Oliver), creating the most fragrant tomato and basil salad you’ve ever seen.
Now for instagram! #Blogger’schild
The kids made their own dressing too, mixing balsamic vinegar with olive oil in jam jars and energetically shaking them, before tearing fragrant basil leaves, green and purple, into a bowl, proud faces all round.
Next, it was silky omelette time, an invention of Jamie’s although he said whenever he declares he’s invented something, someone, somewhere tries to say it’s not true (even citing the Romans as originators)!
…This thin, delicate omelette with grated Parmesan in the middle, rolled up like a croissant, is a firm family favourite in his household.
He spoke of making it with his middle daughter and how much his kids love cooking, even if, ‘7/10 dinners in the Oliver household are carnage’. Yep, we can relate Jamie!
Impressively, Jamie even got my little Oliver to try tomato for the first time and encouraged him to dig into the omelette. My fussy eater was erm, eating.
That’s the Jamie Effect for you!
And just look at the two ‘Olivers’ cooking together! I’m framing these for my kitchen! #Proudface
Watching Oliver relish in the prep and cooking made me realise the power of getting kids stuck into making food and not just baking, the usual go-to with kids.
I’m getting him in the kitchen more often now that’s for sure.
And not just cooking-he’ll be growing more too!
Jamie gave each child a goody bag with a pot, an array of herb seeds, soil and mini shovels that have been added to our herb garden out the back which Oliver has re-named ‘Jamie’s Garden’. Aw.
As Jamie discussed the power in growing herbs, even on a bedroom windowsill for little ones, he fired some questions to the kids.
I loved that Oliver shot his hand up several times, answering questions on what you need to grow herbs; despite being rather shy around Jamie during the session, he was beaming by the end of the day, proud of his new culinary skills and pumped to tell his school friends about his time with one of the most famous chefs in the world, something he recollected in front of the class a few days later.
My personal highlight was getting time to chat to Jamie one-to-one. He was so relaxed, lovely and genuinely interested in everyone’s story and work (like a ray of sunshine), it was great to get a proper chance to talk.
I asked him if it’s gets easier, the more kids you have. He laughed that it gets louder- and the more experience the better but like everything we’re all just trying our best.
We chatted about Greek food as my parents have award winning Greek restaurants, my brother two Italian ones, and had a laugh over me trying out for Junior Masterchef as a child.
My Dad literally shouted at the judges when I didn’t make the finals and telly (I came 4th in the North)-but hopefully he’s now proud of my cooking skills! He’s definitely proud I met Jamie :).
Excitingly, I even got to do a Facebook Live with Jamie which is pretty much a life highlight right there!