A food guru who inspired Jamie Oliver’s love of Italian cuisine has urged him to take a break from TV and focus on cooking again.
Marco Bergamasco said: “He has become more like an actor than a cook. He should go back to his roots.” Venice-based Marco was shocked when his celebrity pal shut six of his restaurants earlier this year.
“I really didn’t think they could decline the way they seemed to have, with so many closing, because he seemed a good cook,” he said. “He has gone too far away from his beginnings of being a cook and taken it more into a brand, with marketing, an empire. Maybe he lost the focus.
“He’s not a chef any longer, he’s a manager, because he isn’t just cooking, he’s writing books, selling products.”
This month Jamie, 41, struck a multimillion-pound deal with Channel 4, including a new TV series this autumn, Jamie’s Quick & Easy, which will be accompanied by a book. The three-year agreement extends his relationship with the channel to 17 years.
Marco, 54, who runs a stall in Venice’s Rialto Fish Market, met the dad of five when he was making a programme in Italy two years ago. He reckons the Naked Chef star would be happier back in the kitchen than on TV.
“Jamie was so great, humble, respectful, simple and hugely wanted to learn and understand the fish and the lagoon,” he said. “I gave him as much Venetian cooking knowledge as I could. I passed on my grandmother’s recipes, taught him how to open an eel, swore at him because he did it wrong.
“He put my recipes into his book word for word, published them and demonstrated them on TV. He was my idol, it was an honour for me to have Jamie there and tell him these things.”
Marco has invited Jamie to return to Venice and cook with him again to rediscover what Italy has to offer.
“This is the right place because you have no distractions. He will remind himself of his original ideas.