Jamie Oliver: European immigrant workers 'much stronger, much tougher'

The celebrity chef sparks controversy by saying that British workers 'whinge' about long shifts.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 03 Sep 2013

Campaigning chef Jamie Oliver has said that if his restaurants were forced to rely on British workers alone, he wouldn’t be in business.

The 38-year-old chef said that with British kids particularly, he had ‘never seen anything so wet behind the ears’. Oliver said he has had mothers of 23-year-olds ringing up to say that their sons were ‘too tired’ and struggling to cope with the 48-hour weeks.

‘I think our European immigrant friends are much stronger, much tougher. If we didn’t have any, all of my restaurants would close tomorrow. There wouldn’t be any Brits to replace them,’ he told Good Housekeeping magazine. Oliver's comments come just days after he criticised the poor for eating ready meals - is he on a PR push for a new TV show or new campaign?

The Essex-born celebrity chef, who started working at 13 in his father’s pub, said that in his 20s his average working week was 80 to 100 hours. ‘But the EU regulation now is 48 hours, which is half a week’s work for me. And they still whinge about it!’

Jamie Oliver runs more than 30 UK branches of Jamie’s Italian restaurants, which he is expanding abroad, as well as Fifteen, which helps the young unemployed, Jamie Oliver’s Diner, and the Union Jacks chain. He is estimated to be worth £150m.

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