Jamie’s Quick & Easy Christmas, fronted by TV chef Jamie Oliver, is a hour-long Christmas special coming to Channel 4 this December.
The show will see Jamie apply his quick and easy principles for the festive season, sharing recipes combined of just five ingredients. Speaking to Channel 4, Jamie talks about Christmas traditions, hosting 30 guests, and the 'carnage' involved when it comes to decorating the Christmas tree.
1. Jamie’s Quick & Easy Christmas was filmed early
'We filmed this one in October,' he reveals. 'I’ve done Christmas specials for 18 years now, so that’s just become a weird reality of my life.'
2. It was filmed with his five children and naturally involved a lot of takes
‘We shot it at home, the kids rocked up and the newest member of the Oliver family – River, who’s two-and-a-half – gets involved. So he does one recipe with me, then Jools tries to take him away again but he doesn’t want to go and kicks off, so he ends up staying,' Jamie explains. 'The same happened with Petal eight Christmases ago when she was the same age. Me and River do homemade doughballs with baked Camembert. It’s a lovely dish, people go nuts for it and we’ve done it in the shape of a Christmas tree. I make it one-handed with River in my arms and every time I got it looking nice, he’d just thwack it and squash it! But we get there eventually.'
3. He might be a professional chef but even Jamie has had disasters
He confesses: 'I used to make banoffee pie for dessert, which involved boiling tins of condensed milk for hours in a pan of water. I let it boil dry once and as I’m sure you know, if you heat a tin long enough, it’ll explode. Normally it might contain tomatoes or something quite innocent but when it’s boiling black caramel, it’s really dangerous. Luckily, no-one was in the kitchen at the time but I came back to find stalactites and stalagmites of caramel all over the room. It looked quite impressive actually! Getting distracted is your enemy, for men in general and also at Christmas.'
4. Planning is key to a successful Christmas dinner
'I hate plans generally in life but at Christmas, even I do a plan,' he reveals. 'Schedule it all backwards, from the moment when you put the first morsel of food in your mouth, back to carving, back to resting for that golden hour-and-a-half when you take the turkey out, free up the oven and do your other bits.
5. Even Jamie sometimes gets stressed hosting Christmas at home
'The default Oliver Christmas is 30-odd people. If I haven’t got my sh*t together by the time they turn up, it’s manic,' he explains. 'They all turn up and want to hug and kiss and talk, which is lovely, but I want them to get tasty hot food as well.
'Cooking for 12 or 15 people is very common in Britain, which is kind of like running a small restaurant. It’s a lot of pressure, so you have to get prepped. If you’re clever enough and get enough done beforehand, you can actually have a nice time and enjoy the moment.’
6. Decorating the Christmas tree at home is 'carnage'
'If you think The Osbournes is funny, the Olivers is madness,' says Jamie. 'Peaks and troughs of happiness and tears. I always post an Instagram picture of a lovely tree but because I don’t like to bullsh*t, I say: “If you knew the chaos that happened before this picture…” Once I switch the lights on, everyone goes quiet and they’re happy. But the build-up to that is carnage: kids stepping on glass baubles, electric shocks from dodgy fairy lights, squabbling over who gets to do what. It’s exhausting. Afterwards, I invariably collapse on the sofa with a nice glass of whisky and fall asleep.'
7. Jamie's wife Jools has a quirk when it comes to Christmas trees
Jamie explains: 'Jools is so into Christmas. She gets really nostalgic. Christmas was very important to her as a kid because her dad wasn’t very well, so it was important to get Christmas right and of course, that carries on into her own family. She’s an amazing woman but she has this massive problem of feeling sorry for Christmas trees which, let’s be honest, isn’t normal!
'When we go to get our tree, she’ll find the saddest tree that looks like it’s been neglected and she’ll have to buy it. Then I’ll have to take it home and erect it. Last year, Jools found one that was like a bush. It didn’t have a top, just the bottom half. A Christmas bush. But as per usual, she was right and it ended up looking awesome. A lot of families are like that – they have their own little sentimentalities and traditions.’
8. Healthy eating advocate Jamie says Christmas is definitely a time for over-indulgence
'I think we give ourselves time off at Christmas and rightly so. The joy of food is indulgence and comfort. It’s buying, cooking and eating for deliciousness, not righteousness. And let’s be honest, life without cake would be really boring. I love sugar, by the way,' he admits. 'My problem was the misuse of sugar. Besides, healthy recipes aren’t really the issue at Christmas, the issue is eating too much. It’s not ingredients, it’s sheer volume.
'Most of us get that wrong at Christmas, including me, and then we all waddle into January the same way every year.'
9. He naturally gifts foodie presents at Christmas
'[It's] normally a little hamper of stuff I’ve made at weekends over the last month or two,' Jamie says. 'Damson gin, crab apple jelly, quince jam, gingerbread, hot chocolate, things like that. Olive oil is picked in October and November, so if you can get hold of new season stuff, it’s unbelievable: luminous, viscous and just tastes different.
'I like gifts that keep on giving, like a pestle and mortar, that will still be making your food taste amazing years later.'
10. He has one festive guilty pleasure
'Cream soda,' he reveals. 'It’s the only time I buy cream soda. Buddy’s like “What is this? This is amazing.” I’m like “Don’t get used to it.”'
Watch Jamie's Quick & Easy Christmas on Wednesday 19th December at 8pm on Channel 4