It’s happened a few times in the past that rumours have begun to swirl about the prospect of British-born celebrity chef Jamie Oliver opening a restaurant in South Africa. This time though, we have good reason to believe that the talk is not just rumour – it seems that the notion that our fertile soil is soon to be blessed with the culinary magic that is Jamie is real truth.
In a recent tweet, Melrose Arch shopping centre in Johannesburg responded to a query from The Joburg Foodie and confirmed that Jamie is set to bring a branch of his Jamie’s Italian franchise to Jozi in the near future (see the Twitter exchange below). The food guru is yet to say anything about this himself, and his communications department has been a little vague, but we can hopefully safely assume that if the site that’s set to host his new eatery is so confident about this development, it’s likely to happen.
@thejoburgfoodie You are correct! We are very excited to be welcoming Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver… Further details to follow shortly
— Melrose Arch (@MelroseArch) January 27, 2016
The very first Jamie’s Italian was opened back in 2008 in Oxford, England, and was inspired by the great chef’s adoration of Italian food and culture. ‘Since I was a teenager, I’ve been totally besotted by the love, passion and verve for food, family and life itself that just about all Italian people have, no matter where they’re from or how rich or poor they might be,’ he’s quoted as saying on the Jamie’s Italian website. The restaurant is known for making authentic, rustic food with Jamie flair, and it’s designed to be a relaxed, accessible space, so hopefully that means that we can all afford to experience this famed cook and television personality’s touch. Of course we don’t yet know exactly what the local menu will look like, but we’re hoping it includes dishes like this:
Treat yourself to something delicious this #lunchtime with our #Meatball pappardelle in fiery ‘nduja tomato sauce! A photo posted by Jamie’s Italian UK (@jamiesitalianuk) on
What could be better than sharing great food with family & friends? Eat #TheItalianWay this #weekend! A photo posted by Jamie’s Italian UK (@jamiesitalianuk) on
Make it a #MeatFreeMonday. Roast Heritage and Avocado Salad – Spiced honey-roasted carrots, marinated feta, avocado, leafy radishes, fennel, mint, toasted seeds & an orange & pomegranate dressing #carrots #feta #avocado #radish #fennel #mint #pomegranate A photo posted by Jamie’s Italian UK (@jamiesitalianuk) on
and this too…
What do you love most about #autumn? Celebrate this Monday with these beautiful seasonal flavours. Baked Mushrooms with crispy music bread, smoked mozzarella & thyme. #mushrooms #musicbread #mozzarella #thyme. A photo posted by Jamie’s Italian UK (@jamiesitalianuk) on
Typically, the aesthetic of Jamie’s Italian restaurants takes its cue from the city it’s found in, so from a design perspective, we can hopefully expect the new eatery to boast a distinctly Joburg feel and to reflect the character of the building and area that surrounds it.
Regardless, the fact that someone of Jamie’s stature is looking to South Africa to launch a space reflects very well on the quality of our local food scene.
We’ll have to wait to see what unfolds, so keep an eye on this space for more details and watch Melrose Arch’s Twitter page.
Main image credit: Jamie Italian’s UK Facebook Page.