Good Food Blog
Is Jamie the busiest man in Britain?Posted at 12:02PM, 12 March 2009 by Jessica Gunn - Features editor - olive magazine
Hot on the heels of multiple openings of Jamie's Italian (affordable Italian food, no bookings) in Oxford, Bath and Kingston (Brighton opens imminently), a tie-in with Scandic Hotels, a US-based TV series scheduled for later this year, plus accompanying book, a new bookazine, and a new range of designery kitchenware called JME, comes yet another launch - Recipease.
Team Jamie describe Recipease as 'a new food and kitchen shop where anyone can learn to cook and make great food.' It opened its doors to the public on 26 Feb, but I was lucky enough to attend a sneak preview in Battersea earlier in the month.
Remarkably, Jamie himself was in attendance at the launch, along with the local mayor, police, members of Team Jamie and a whole lot of others. The place was packed, champagne was flowing and samplers of the kind of food that's going to be on offer were circulating - I tried a paneer curry (nice, not incredible) and slices of pizza (really very good).
Jamie admitted that Recipease was 'probably the riskiest thing I've ever done - and at the darkest time.'
Jamie made a speech where he admitted that Recipease was 'probably the riskiest thing I've ever done - and at the darkest time.' Which was met with loud laughter and then maybe a tiny bit of an awkward silence.
So what is Recipease? Jamie told us that it's 'something that's never been done before.' Which it sort of is. Walking through the bright pink shop-front you enter a large, stylish space with shelves stacked with JME kitchenware, giant jars of jam and chutneys, wine racks, fresh breads and pastries, coolers packed with ready-made dishes - stone floors, lots of wood, handwritten labelling.
Further inside is the crux of the project - a large cooking area where customers are invited to try their hand at making a dish under the direction of the Recipease food team (book ahead). It's not scratch cooking - everything comes pre-chopped and measured - you just put it all together, take it home and cook it. You pay only for the ingredients you use and your finished product is cheaper than the pre-prepared versions available in the chiller cabinets at the front. You can also drop in and make one of a couple of 'dishes of the day' - pizza, curry - that kind of thing.
Will it work? Jamie says he wants to get the schools and colleges in and there's no doubt that this would be a brilliant place to assuage any cooking fears before moving on to the real thing. My concern would be that the pricing (fantastic fish pie £7.95 for two; perfect pork en croute £8.95 for two) and rather swish image might alienate the concept from the market for which it's most intended.
Or maybe it's all just too much Jamie? You tell me - is Jamie our food saviour, enriching our lives from every feasible angle, or is he a brand over-exposed and over-stretched which frankly, you've had enough of?