The Jamie Oliver Experience

Once upon a time long long ago some young cockney geezer with a cheeky grin & floppy hair — who looked like the proverbial milkman who would either impregnate your wife, or run off with her — appeared on my TV screen. His name was Jamie Oliver and his TV show was called The Naked Chef. Alrigh’ Guv. It was a late night cooking show on BBC 2 and the concept was pretty simple. Jamie would drive around Laaandaan in his silver scooter, buy some ingredients, chat to people and then go home and cook some pukka fodder for his laaavlaay mates, musician-people, wife & family. It was food for parties, picnics, dinners & hangovers. Great tasting food made simple with cheap basic ingredients. So simple & easy that any man watching could delude themselves into believing they could actually cook that stuff, too — which, incidentally, was actually part of the show’s genius. You see, by giving the average bloke at home an average bloke on the telly, it meant that the fat couch-potato eating pleb sat at home had someone they could actually identify with; or, at least think to themselves — if this floppy haired joker can knock out a pan of lamb stew, then there’s no reason I can’t.

The Naked Chef ran for three seasons. It was a huge success and it turned Jamie Oliver into a household name. A star, who would now and then, stick his head above the parapet rattling his spatulas and saucepans to question the general malaise of food in British society. And I must admit I agreed with a lot of what he had to say — as I sat there eating a packet of fruit gums & frazzles. He had a point. Many good points. From improving hospital food to school food to getting fast food chains to change their terrible obese & diabetic ways. These were things I nodded my head very enthusiastically, too. Well done, Jamie. I’m with you on that me old mukka pukka. Now, since those rather modest days in the limelight, Jamie’s star has only gotten brighter. Cook books and restaurants now carry his name in different parts of the world. The latter, one of which, can be found in one of Bangkok’s legion of designer malls. The restaurant is ingeniously named Jamie Oliver’s Italian and it can be found on the first floor of Siam Discovery at Siam Centre. Browsing at the menu online, I wondered if Jamie had been cheeky enough to include a selection of burgers. He had. Bingo. An excellent excuse to head over and check the place out.

So, how was it, then, me old pukka? Was it wicked? Well, it was… hmmm… could have been better. Actually, it should have been better. Although, before I get into the nitty gritty, there is something I really need to get off my chest. It’s something that makes my blood boil, so, please, bare with me, as I just vent a little — because it’s not the first time it’s happened. When my burger arrived I took one look and wondered why it looked like a Jenga Tower. It was excessively & unnecessarily tall. Stacked. A high-rise multi story of thick cuts of tomato, lettuce & god knows what else — all loaded on top of the patty. The only thing keeping it all together was a stick which had been driven through the middle. To take an actual bite you would need the jaw anatomy of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Oddly enough, I’m not a Tyrannosaurus Rex. So, for the next five minutes I was busy re-engineering my burger — and this is what I hate — the re-engineering part. My question then is, why prepare and present a burger that no human being on earth is able to either hold in one hand or take a bite out of? It just doesn’t make sense and it makes me fume. Anyway, so out went the nonsense and down went some pressure. Now, I could actually take a bite. Jesus wept. From there on in it was relatively plain sailing. No major waves. Nowt awful. Nor nowt memorable neither. The bun was a little disappointing, though. Too big for the patty, but worse, it fell apart, as it couldn’t cope with the oozy greasy juicy fattiness. Still, the beef patty tasted decent, even though it had been cooked a little too thoroughly. The chips on the side, which were garlic, were good, but — and this is another thing — I don’t order a burger for the chips, so, for me, that’s all rather inconsequential.

In summary, all I can really say is that it really should have been better; especially when the price was a heart fluttering 580 Baht. Jamie’s Italian Burger 6/10 @ Jamie’s Italian Restaurant.