Celebrity chef reveals he employs team of ‘cultural appropriation’ advisers
British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who has previously been subject to cultural appropriation-related criticism, has revealed that now he employs a number of experts tasked with checking his recipes for possible insensitivities.
Confirming in an interview with The Sunday Times that now he has “teams of cultural appropriation specialists” working for him, the chef said: “Your immediate reaction is to be defensive and say, ‘For the love of God, really?’ And then you go, ‘Well, we don’t want to offend anyone’.”
Offering one example, Oliver admitted that his 2012 ‘Empire Roast Chicken’ dish, which is seasoned with a variety of spices, would not be seen as an acceptable name today. Oliver has had more than one experience of being accused of cultural appropriation, however.
In 2018, he was criticized by the Labour Party’s then shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler MP, who expressed her indignation on Twitter over the chef’s ‘Punchy Jerk Rice.’
“Your jerk rice is not ok. This appropriation from Jamaica needs to stop,” she said. At the time, Oliver excused the name, saying that his intention “was only to show where my inspiration came from.”
Butler was later criticized for appropriation herself after a photo appeared of her holding a folding hand fan – a sixth century Japanese invention.
Four years prior to the ‘Punchy Jerk Rice’ incident, Oliver also faced criticism over another rice recipe – ‘Jollof Rice’, a West African dish.
Other celebrity chefs have regularly come under fire for similar reasons. In 2019, hot-headed chef Gordon Ramsay wrote a lengthy post on Instagram in response to food writer Angela Hui’s allegations of ‘whitewashing’ Asian culture in his Asian Eating House ‘Lucky Cat’ restaurant.