Jamie Oliver breaks down in tears over collapse of his restaurant empire

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Jamie Oliver admitted to his non-restaurant staff that he got cocky and thought everything he did would work after the collapse of his empire.

The insight came in Channel Four documentary Jamie Oliver: The Naked Chef Bares All.

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Jamie Oliver breaks down in tears over collapse of his restaurant empire

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The majority of his restaurants closed after going into administration back in May, with Fifteen Cornwall being one of the few to survive.

Speaking to his non-restaurant staff on the episode, Jamie said: “It’s a really tough one. For many, many months now I have been walking around the office and you have been like ‘Jamie, are you alright’ and I have gone ‘Yes’ but the truth was no I’m f*****g not, it’s f****d.

Jamie Oliver breaks down in tears over collapse of his restaurant empire

“I am utterly devastated, financially I have exhausted everything I could, I used every card, I used every trick, I used every contact.

“We got cocky, we thought anything we did would work.

“Massive lessons learnt, I will never make them again, never again, never again, never again.”

Jamie Oliver and Davina McCall
(Image: Channel Four)

The chef was seen in tears when speaking to Davina McCall on the documentary about the restaurant collapse.

He went back to Fifteen in London, the first of his restaurants, to find out what was happening to his business.

Looking around the abandoned venue and barely holding it together Jamie said: “It is really eerie and I don’t like it.

“I don’t know, it is like in the films when the bomb has gone off and everyone has to leave and everything is just left.

 

“My god, it’s tough. I have been so stressed, I have been, it’s gone.

“Over there on the pillar, there were two plaques from students who had died.”

Speaking about the process of dealing with staff, administrator Will said: “Sadly you can’t practically give employees notice that you are about to make them redundant in administration.

“It is just not practical, administrators take over executive control , we are appointed by the court.

“So what happened was we had to move quickly. The hard part of this particular case was that only a relatively small number of employees, percentage wise, were there at that particular time.

Jamie Oliver in tears after collapse of restaurant empire
(Image: Channel Four)

“We invite all employees to conference calls which we lead and we give people the bad news sadly, which is awful.

“But there is no other way to do it.”

Jamie then added: “The staff got paid up to the date, I made sure of that.

“I just did my best and I couldn’t do it this time.

“Without question the most painful regret when a business dies is having to tell staff that you care about , that have worked really hard for you, that they haven’t got a job anymore.”

When asked by Davina what went wrong, Jamie added: “To survive in this industry is really tough, i was very naive at the time.

“I was good at running one restaurant but I wouldn’t call myself a businessman.

“I’m good at quite a few things but not necessarily brilliant at everything and I we did plenty wrong.

“I opened a lot of big restaurants and I think people like small-medium sized restaurants.

“You have these big cathedrals that you can’t fill.”

Davina also spoke to Jamie about his life, from his struggles at school to how he found fame and became The Naked Chef.

There was no studio, script or a weighing scale in sight when he started the show as Jamie wanted it to be real.

It was one of the first of its kind on television when it started in 1999 and it was a show that grabbed the attention of men.

Jamie Oliver with staff at Fifteen Cornwall
(Image: Fifteen Cornwall)

Speaking about starting Fifteen, Jamie said: “I had money for the first time ever, I wanted to, I could, so I did. It is as simple as that.

“Part of that is being reckless and a bit of a knob but also just a really good clear idea.”

Jamie spoke about money troubles he had in the early days, when he remortgaged his house without telling his wife in order to fund it.

“We were over budget, so I ran out of money,” he told Davina.

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“There were three weeks when theoretically I could have gone bankrupt but it was only because I got another royalty check from Penguin that I was back in the green again.”

Fifteen Cornwall is the only one of Jamie’s restaurants still open after the others went into administration back in May.

Over 1,000 jobs were lost as the majority of his 25 restaurants closed.

Three outlets at Gatwick Airport – Jamie Oliver’s Diner, Jamie’s Italian and Jamie’s Coffee Lounge – were bought out of administration by food-to-go specialist SSP Group, which saved 250 jobs.

Jamie Oliver at Fifteen Cornwall’s tenth anniversary – it welcomes its 15th cohort this year

Even though those at the Fifteen Cornwall kept their jobs, there were tears following the news.

The Cornish restaurant opened in 2006 above Watergate Bay. It is a social enterprise that takes on apprentice chefs and gives them an opportunity to train with the best in one of the duchy’s finest restaurants.

The critically acclaimed restaurant has enrolled almost 200 apprentices over the past 13 years and invests £1 million each year back into the local economy through its local sourcing policy.

 

In Exeter, the premises of Jamie’s Italian still remains vacant two and a half years after it closed.

Opened in 2015 by Jamie’s mentor Gennarro Contaldo, the chain promised an authentic taste of Italy.

But two years later, customers had fallen out of love with the brand. 

The Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group recorded losses of nearly £10million at that point which lead to the closure in Exeter and later Bath and Bristol.

The unit once occupied by Jamie’s Italian is still vacant

Since then the majority of his restaurant empire has collapsed and fellow chef Marco Pierre White has hit out at The Naked Chef.

Jamie partly blamed Brexit for the collapse when speaking on Radio 4 this week.

He said: “The world changed, the high street changed – it started to become Uber-fied… throw a bit of Brexit in, confidence goes and people’s habits changed.”

But Marco was having none of it in an interview with Birmingham Live.

“I have read Jamie is blaming his business failure on Brexit but I really don’t understand that at all,” the 57-year-old said.

“Wouldn’t that mean then all restaurants have gone bust too?

 

“I don’t think he can blame Brexit. It’s the lamest excuse in the world. I think it is wrong to blame Brexit. We’re all in the same boat. If it’s Brexit’s fault we’d all be bust.

“How can you blame everyone but yourself? Is he delusional?”

Marco went on to criticise Jamie for blaming everyone but himself and was even critical about his two experiences dining in one of his restuarants.

Marco Pierre White

“The only time I’ve ever dined at a Jamie’s was at Gatwick Airport.  I’ve dined twice there, most recently, last year.

“Both times I had to wait a very long time for my food. It was horrific.

“We all make mistakes, we all have bad days. But I’ve got to say it was consistently bad on both occasions.

“It wasn’t my decision to eat there both times – the people I was with chose to go there, but you wouldn’t want to go to another Jamie’s after that.

“Even if you enjoyed your food,  bad service always leaves a sour taste in the mouth.”

Speaking in the documentary about Marco, Jamie admitted they didn’t get on.

He told Davina: “We don’t really get on, which is quite tough.

“I know he thinks that I’m a w*****, and the feeling is fairly mutual.

“Some of the older established chefs hated celebrity chefs, that was one of the hard things to accept on the journey, when your heroes don’t like you.”