• My Jamie Oliver Experience (LONDON)

To begin my story, I have an English friend Paul who gave me the best description how I admire Jamie Oliver. He said: "For Joan, Jamie is God"

Having that definition of Jamie in my life, he became my inspiration through the years. I was guided by his books, TV shows and website. This molded me to be the passionate cook I am today. His philosophies in life is what I admired most about him. Through him I can see my self, the way he invigorates his passion towards food , how willing he shares his recipes to the world, his kind-heart to teach people his knowledge and most of all his generosity to help the needy through giving them education. Those facts triggered me to never stop dreaming I would meet this very admirable person.

Came February 2009, I saw this ad on Jamie’s website promoting the Valentine’s video contest. That day I told my self that I am going to win this competition and I did! The editor Danny Mc Cubbin emailed me to confirm that I won. I can have my prizes shipped but I will get it half and the dinner voucher will be forfeited. So I told Danny, why not keep it and I will save some money then I will go to London to claim my prizes. Danny and I became in touch thru email. Since the day I won, I never stop hoping to meet Jamie.

Fast forward to October 4, 2010 I went to FIFTEEN resto in London to finally meet Danny.

He was very friendly to invite me to join him for lunch as he cooks curry for his online team. I was surprised to meet a Filipino and a Vietnamese in the team. I met the entire team and they were all adorable and friendly. I didn't feel like a stranger at all. I felt the warm accommodation and in my opinion these guys are all very lucky to be part of the Jamie Oliver online team and having Danny as their editor.


After lunch Danny and I went to the stock room office to get my prizes. 

On the way I noticed how friendly Danny is as a person because everyone we met on the street knows him. So after getting the prizes we were walking to go back to his office, out of the blue Danny ran so fast and left me in the middle of the street. I was clueless so I chased him and ran after him very fast. Then as I get closer I saw Danny stopping the man who was knocking at the door. They were already talking when I was about to approach them. I told myself, I don't think it's Jamie but I was surprised to see that it was really JAMIE OLIVER! Oh my God!!! Jesus Christ! I was shocked and I felt so surreal. The feeling was unfathomable. My knees were shaking as I walked down the road getting near to the man I admire the most in my life and who was already talking to Danny. I felt the tears slowly fell from my eyes. I  think I know already the feeling why a bride cries as she walks down the aisle towards her groom.  I think I felt more than that. Walking down the road seeing one of the greatest men alive on earth was such an ecstatic feeling inside my heart. Danny introduced me to him and tears didn't stop falling as I spoke to Jamie. The precious few minutes that we talk is the greatest thing that ever happened in my life. I savor every single second of that priceless moment. For me he’s one of the biggest yet most humble person on earth! How can I forget that once upon a time my dream turned into real.

Looking at the three photos I had with Jamie, I have to thank again Danny Mc Cubbin his editor for reminding me that I should have one. I was so overwhelmed, talkative and in tears of joy when Danny took my camera and told me if I want to have a picture with him. I almost forgot but thankfully he didn't. 

Greater things await me because Jamie Oliver allowed me to have a tour at his offices, stockroom, kitchen studio and the private test kitchen. That day I saw Adam Perry Lang conducting some test on the quality of meat for their new restaurant. Barbecoa is the restaurant that Jamie was about to launch at that time with his business partner who is Adam Perry Lang. He is a barbecue expert and a celebrity chef in New York. With all these things that happened, I was really overwhelmed. This went beyond my expectation. 

Then dinner came and Danny invited me to sit at Trattoria inside Fifteen Restaurant. I was waiting for the menu to come and while waiting, he introduced me to the chef and his name is Chef Chris. Few more minutes after waiting for the menu, my food arrived even before I order. A special meal that the chef prepared. I was flabbergasted. Aside from the meal, a pumpkin dish with ricotta was also served. Plus the creamy creme brulee and mouth-watering lemon drink with Fifteen's special concoction. I was really full and satisfied after the dinner. I was speechless and Danny told me "you are a very lucky person today." I have no doubt that I am a lucky person most of the time. After the meal Danny and I headed our way home as we rode the London Underground. We share a lot of stories and at that time I was the one who told him that he is a very lucky person to have the best job in the world. I am truly envious. But I am so happy to have met a very kind Aussie guy like Danny in the land of English people.

The prizes I won from the contest at Jamie Oliver's website are: signed copy of his "Ministry of Food" book, 100 pounds Jamie Oliver online products and 80 pounds dinner for two at Jamie's Italian. I supposed to have the dinner in London but I think I'd rather splurge the dinner alone and savor them with enjoyment outside London and the right place to be is the newly opened Jamie's Italian branch in Liverpool.

Danny reserved a special spot for me. When I arrived the manager and the waiters gave me a warm welcome. They all knew my story that I flew all the way from Vietnam to claim my prizes. They were pretty amazed of my life's journey and about my story meeting Jamie Oliver. 

Having the best dinner with the best food and for free is an ultimate experience I had so far. The food were really great as I savor each of them with my joyful tongue. The taste and the flavours were absolutely impeccable. It's not the posh type of food but it's very Italian. The flavours are very authentic. The knowledge of Italian cooking that Jamie learned from his mentor Gennaro Contaldi were all paid-off with the success of Jamie's Italian restaurants.

The night ended and I have to get the total of the food I ate if all of those were already 80 pounds. I only consumed 45 pounds so I still have 35 pounds left. They suggested to purchase it to some Jme products available in the store. Surprisingly they gave me almost all the items in the resto including the book. And I think I brought home almost a 100 pounds of Jme products aside from the 100 pounds of Jme products that I won from the online store. From manager to the waiters to the chef of Jamie's Italian in Liverpool, they are all amazing people. The serving and treatment they shown me is something I will really value for the rest of my life. Maybe sounds exaggerated to other people who will read this but with all sincerity, I value people who are kind and good to me. When I left the restaurant the staff told me to come back for lunch the next day if I can.

I did come back at Jamie's Italian in Liverpool for lunch after my Beatles tour at John Lennon's and Paul Mc Cartney's houses. I paid for my meal and gave a little token of tip. During day time the manager was different but still very accommodating. He was also aware of my story and maybe everyone from the restaurant have mentioned it to him already.

My Jamie Oliver experience in London and Liverpool is one story I should share to the world. I am a dreamer and I can’t thank God enough for the blessings he gave me and that is meeting Danny, his staff, Fifteen staff, Jamie’s Italian staff and of course my one big love Jamie Oliver! Many people are also dreamer like me but very few have  courage to chase their dreams and so little of them have faith that dreams do come true.

I'm off to make another dream come true when I soon study culinary in Italy. I have to be brave to take some risks and make a big leap to be able to enter again a new world of dream...

Until my next Jamie Oliver adventure!

big hug,
joanie  xxx