Jamie Cooks Summer Review: Hot Stuff

JAMIE COOKS SUMMER, Monday 22nd August, Channel 4, 9pm

Looks like Jamie’s betting on an Indian Summer, with the naked chef returning to our screens for a new one hour special focussing on the delights of al fresco cooking.

Trying to make a pukka point that there’s ‘more to summer than a sausage on a bbq’, the cockney chef cooks in a variety of locations throughout the show, driving around in a VW camper and getting involved in ‘proper Boy Scout’s stuff’, to use Jamie’s phrase.

Viewers will be pleased to know the programme stays faithful to the ‘Jamie Oliver’ brand, with the chef’s informal, no nonsense approach to cooking still as entertaining as it’s ever been. The focus is yet again on how easy each of the chef’s recipes are to replicate at home, with Jamie keen to show viewers that tasty cooking doesn’t have to be about expensive gadgets or Heston Blumenthal-style exuberance. “The big man upstairs gave you a pair of hands, you might as well bleedin use em” says Jamie, as he gets to grips making guacamole using only his hands and a grater.

There’s some famous faces joining the chef to, with old pal Gennaro and Reggae Reggae sauce entrepreneur Levi Roots lending a hand to show viewers how cooking is really done in the great outdoors. However, as much as the thought of spit roasting outside is nice, I might stick to using the BBQ in the back garden for the time being.

Jamie, a father to four kids, is also keen to show how great it can be to get children involved in cooking. Whilst his pancake chocolate cake and home-made ice lollies are certainly a winner with the children, personally I got a headache from looking at the mess being created by the chef’s willing volunteers.

Surprisingly, there wasn’t too much for vegetarians to take away from tonight show. I say this because being one myself, I can normally trust Jamie to create at least a couple of non-meat main dishes, or at least suggest alternatives for those who choose not to eat animals.

I was also increasing frustrated by the imagery used throughout the programme, with recipes interceded by shots of a hot summer’s day, smiling people eating under gorgeous hot sunshine and dancing about on the beach with the sun on their back. This idealist image of a British summer certainly looks great but is hardly realistic, especially considering the weather we have had this August. It would have been more genuine if the chef was cooking under a tarpaulin in the back garden, desperately trying to keep the water out of the BBQ. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit mean here. We’ve had some sunshine this year, but hardly the Mediterranean style climate that the programme portrays.

Putting aside my annoyances about our glorious British summer and the lack of vegetarian dishes, tonight’s programme is very watchable, again providing accessible and easy alternatives to what Jamie calls ‘scrotum burgers and service station snacks’. Whilst I’m still unconvinced that people will carry huge pots of food out to a picnic rather than scotch eggs from Morrison’s, perhaps the message that should be taken from Jamie Cooks Summer is that eating outside can be fun, imaginative and entertaining for children -if you can bear to tidy up after them that is.