Jamie Oliver's latest television series and book, Jamie's Quick and Easy Food, goes back to basics.

Jamie Oliver wants more

Jamie Oliver says he still has another 10 years in him.

There's no slowing down or talk of retirement. Life is on "full boil'' for the bubbly British chef but he admits he's currently on a journey of self-reflection.

"To be honest, right now in my life at 42 years old, I'm trying to work out what do I want to achieve in the next 10 years," he tells Weekend.

"Why do I get up in the morning? Why do I do the hours that I do and make the compromises I make? I don't want to get it wrong."

He knows what it's like to be busy. With five children - his youngest, River, joined the Oliver clan in August last year - he says he's still "putting in the bakery shifts".

With dozens of television series to his name, 20 cookbooks, a production company, restaurants dotted across the world, cooking schools and charities championing children's health, he says couldn't imagine the success he's had since a TV producer, the late Pat Llewellyn, discovered the Essex lad while filming a documentary at The River Cafe where he worked in 1997.

Now, 20 years since he debuted as The Naked Chef, he is stripping it bare again and going back to basics, where it all started, in his latest book-turned-TV-series, Jamie's Quick and Easy Food, using only five ingredients.


Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver bases his latest cookbook and TV series on five ingredients.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver bases his latest cookbook and TV series on five ingredients. Contributed

"If I look back over the last 20 years and 20 books of work, half of them have been self-indulgent voyages of discovery with a bit more high-end cooking. The other half has been trying to solve problems," he says.

"It's a bit of a nutty one this one. It's a beautiful, fresh book and the five ingredients makes it short and sweet. But it's also the fastest selling book I've ever written. It's gone absolutely nuts. Even 20 years in, I don't take that lightly."

That's the thing about Oliver, he's genuine. It's his relaxed persona and his signature passion for food and health that have enabled him to reach into kitchens across the globe.

"I was at the fishmonger's at the weekend and an 80-year-old woman came up to me and said how brilliant the book was," the chef says.

"I was like wow! To be in your 80th year and still reading some little whipper snapper's cookbook and finding it useful in your home."

His latest venture was inspired by a "constant daily conversation" with his global audiences, "Aussies included, telling me blatantly what they wanted".

"Quick and Easy Food is really a massive masterclass in restraint. How to make the most out of what you've got and really concentrate on principles and technique and texture. Two or three of those ingredients you already have at home right now," Oliver says.

"The way that people work, the pressure on their lives, how they juggle being good parents is changing.

"Most of the recipes take 15-20 minutes to make... A mixture of comfort food and new things you may not have seen before.

"There's also dishes that take under five minutes to put together, but you whack 'em in the oven for two hours and let it do beautiful things. It's about using quick and slow to be your best friend."

Oliver says he's always written recipes for "plates" until now. These are the recipes he cooks at home for his own family - his wife Jools and their children Poppy Honey Rosie, Daisy Boo Pamela, Petal Blossom Rainbow, Buddy Bear Maurice, and River Rocket Blue Dallas, who range in age from 15 years down to 15 months. In fact, it's not unusual for Petal and Buddy, even pyjama-clad, to join him on-set. After all, it is to them that he dedicates his latest book.

"One of the tastiest recipes in there is this chicken dish I do and it's pretty ugly... a gnarly peanut chicken. But it's so tasty and it's so quick. It reflects a lot of the lifestyle we are living right now."

Despite leaving school at 16 to pursue his culinary skills and struggling with dyslexia, Oliver is also pursuing a Masters in Nutrition.

His empire's current net worth is estimated at $250 million by one "rich list" compilation, down from more than $400 million in 2014. But his motivation has never been the money. It hasn't always been smooth sailing either. Earlier this year Oliver bought back his Jamie's Italian restaurant portfolio in Australia after its franchisee went in to receivership. But his investment in Australia goes beyond six restaurants. He has expanded into schools and communities with his international food fight against childhood obesity through the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.

In the UK, he's had massive success championing health food reform, including leading a campaign for a "sugar tax" to be introduced.

"My charity is more robust in Australia than it is in England," Oliver says. "We have a five-year strategy, we have Ministry of Food centres in every single state apart from Tassie, we've got trucks out on the road going out into communities, including Aboriginal communities recently, we've got food programs in schools. But there's lots more to be done.

"Australia is forward thinking... all the answers are in the country.

"Like Britain, we have some of the worst childhood obesity statistics. It's about millions and millions of kids who aren't quite realising their full potential at school or in health. That gap seems to be widening from a health and disadvantaged point of view.

"Hopefully our governments change and the new generation of ministers see the importance of child health being fundamental to a happy, healthy economy."

Is this the direction of Oliver's future?

"It's obviously weird trying to talk about yourself," he says. "People call you a brand and that's weird to get used to.

"I have a very unusual gift, or you might want to call it a burden.

"We broadcast in 120 countries around the world on about 230 channels. This globalisation of content sounds impressive, but I get to see and be inspired, and upset, by a lot of things in the food industry, farming, obesity and poverty... it really shapes you as a person.

"I spent the first five years (of his career) pinching myself. I still actually pinch myself now.

"The 10 years in the middle was head down, surfing the wave, and trying to navigate the right way through it. I was trying to work out who I was as a chef and a person and what I wanted to be doing.

"I spent my 30s being quite experimental. I think I've done that now. I want to be a bit more ninja."

Jamie's Quick and Easy Food airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7.30pm and Saturdays at 6pm on Channel TEN.