Long before popular cooking programs “The Great British Baking Show" and “Chef’s Table,” there was Jamie Oliver on “The Naked Chef.” The show, which first aired 20 years ago on BBC Two (before coming to the Food Network stateside), ushered in a new era of creative cooking shows aimed at making food more accessible to all — and drew its then 22-year-old star into the limelight.
Juliette “Jools” Oliver, Jamie’s wife, celebrated her husband’s milestone anniversary with a sentimental Instagram post this week.
“So it’s been 20 years since the ‘naked chef’ programme first hit our screens and what a ride it has been,” Jools wrote. “I have loved that we started this journey together and I got to share with you in all the highs and the lows of your career so far. Words can never say how proud of you I am and how absolutely hard you have worked and not just for yourself.”
The duo experienced the shows unprecedented success hand-in-hand. The Olivers were childhood sweethearts — they started dating when they were both 17 — and wed just one year after the first season of “The Naked Chef” premiered.
Despite their solid relationship, Jamie and Jools were apparently forced to keep their love a secret during the first season of the show. Six years ago, the celebrity chef told The Telegraph that Jools was not included in the first season of his hit show, telling the paper that his then girlfriend of nearly five years was kept “away in the bedroom" as he filmed in the home they shared together.
“The good old BBC didn’t want Jools,” Jamie said. “There were some very talented 40-year-old female executives who said ‘he’s single,' so Jools basically didn’t exist in series one.”
By the second year, though, Jools started appearing onscreen, alongside her love. Jools, a model, and Jamie, a sous chef-turned-celebrity chef, will celebrate 19 years of marriage on June 24 this year.
In the nearly 20 years that they've been married, the pair have welcomed five children with very creative names: Poppy Honey Rosie, 17, Daisy Boo Pamela, 16, Petal Blossom Rainbow, 10, Buddy Bear Maurice, 8, and River Rocket Blue Dallas, 2.
Between changing diapers and juggling playdates, Jamie has kept his Naked Chef-born empire thriving with multiple restaurants and new cooking series. He's also authored an impressive 31 cookbooks.
Today, 20 years since his first show’s premiere, Jamie’s “naked” yet incredibly flavorful recipes continue to delight both amateur and experienced home cooks across the world.