The Naked Chef's off-screen charms
Jamie signs my copy of his latest book
Originally uploaded by lools.
The fourth floor of Barnes and Noble in Union Square was already packed at 5:30, a full hour and a half in advance of Jamie Oliver's scheduled appearance at 7 p.m. The room reverberated with the sounds of excited chatter. A fairly youngish crowd (mostly in their 20s and 30s) pored over "Jamies's Dinners" in eager anticipation.
He arrived at 7 p.m sharp to boisterous cheers and loud clapping. I was completely amazed by the palpable excitement all around. After a quick introducton by the publisher, Jamie took the stage.
He looked like a regular bloke (his favourite word), showered and shaved as though after a rugby game, but was oozing his quintessential British charm. If he's appealed to you on screen, you'll so be in love with him in person. He has a very approachable personality (despite all the fame) and a brilliant sense of humour. Totally adorable.
He told us how he came about the idea for his latest book and then explained the concept behind some of the chapters. He spoke passionately about Cheeky Chops, the charity he started, and the trials and tribulations of Fifteen, his restaurant in Westland Place, London. He expressed his deep concerns about child obesity and the prevelance of junk food in school cafeterias. Jamie shared with us an interesting statistic that the U.K government allocates 46p per meal for criminals in the prison systems and 36p per student in the school systems. How warped is that!
We saw just how die-hard some of his fans are when it was time for questions. One woman stood up and went on for two minutes on how much she adored Jamie even before getting to her question. She even gifted him something and got a big bear hug in return to jealous "awwwwww...s" from the crowd. Another fan asked Jamie what time he shopped at his favourite outdoors market in London and which butcher he bought his sausage from. Apparently she had been going there every weekend this past summer in the hopes of running into him! The funniest question was asked by a thirteen year old boy who wondered how Jamie's hair was so "cool". That really made the crowd burst out in laughter!
The highlight of the evening for me was actually not getting the book signed by The Naked Chef, but meeting his mate, Andy. He lived up to his reputation of being a real lady's man and even personalized his autograph for me! We chatted a bit about their trip to the U.S. and Jamie's plans to do something in New York. A Jamie Oliver restaurant in Manhattan - how delightful that would be!