Saturday, April 26, 2008

Funkengroovin Wednesday - Road Trips, Road Food, and TV #3

Jamie Oliver aka The Naked Chef

Gino was an Italian that went to Mexico. Jamie, in his Great Escape, is a Brit who went to Italy. Both drove classic VWs.

(Below): Photo from The Star Online (check out the article).

Jamie's show premiered two years ago in the UK, when VB was living, back in the States. It then showed in the States, 2007, when VB was in Egypt. Such is the luck of an expat's wife. This often happens, when you travel between international homes. You'll see an episode or two, leave country, and miss the rest of that series, or vice versa. That's where the Apple TV helps out - sometimes. But Apple TV does not offer BBC shows, UKTV shows, or any cooking shows of substance, unless you count the ("fuck me," "fuck all," "...fucking..." blah, blah, blah...) Gordon Ramsey shows, Hell's Kitchen, and Kitchen Nightmares (which VB loves, BTW.) VB does have Jamie's Italy book albeit, more has been written, on the Internet, about his actual road trip. All that's said about his VW Bus in his book, is a thank you to all the folks who helped soup it up, and built the trailer. VB loves Italian food, and one of her favorite TV chefs is Molto Mario Batali, although The Boss Man favors Giada De Laurentiis (most men do - what's not to like.) Jamie is fun to watch regardless, more so for his enthusiasm.

(Below): Photo from Jamie's Book.

VB was, again, quite impressed by Jamie's choice of transportation. And as she stated in her last post, Jamie did have a trailer full of cooking supplies, which he (literally) towed, from the back of his Bus (see photos and video.) Jamie's Bus, although ancient, had been renovated into a lean, mean lovin' machine (that's what it was actually built for.) But even then, VW Buses have a tendency to break down, at the worst times. It has been reported, that expletives were used (OMG!) by Jamie towards his beloved bus, during the filming. Apparently, this cursing chef syndrome has become quite popular.

(Below): Again, from the book. All broke down, and with a Porsche engine, no less! Just goes to show, that nothing you do to a VW Bus or Beetle, will guarantee that it will actually run when you want it to. It's a fucking curse! (But some of us, masochists, refuse to change.)

The article: Pukka set of wheels: Jamie Oliver's VW campervan has a short bio of Jamie's van, and how he came to acquire it.
"This van has had a chequered history. According to Campervan Crazy, the definitive work on these vehicles by David and Cee Eccles, it was discovered in a scrapyard in 1991 by Matt Keene, an enthusiast, who set about a four-year restoration. This involved sandblasting the shell and chassis and replacing all the metalwork, including parts fabricated specially if spares couldn't be found. Matt fitted front-opening "safari" windows, pop-out windows all round and an opening rear window for the ultimate in cool. The purple and white paint-job was Matt's as well."

"In 1999, it passed into the ownership of a London music-video producer. During this time, it was stolen by a woman who locked it in her garage and polished it every day. It was returned unharmed, and shinier. Oliver saw it while riding past on his scooter, knocked on the window and asked to buy it. More upgrades followed."

That passage is just an illustration of how, an infatuated Jamie, misunderstood man's relationship to an older VW. It's not a law, not in the manual, it's an attitude, like karma with your machine (and no one has that kind of karma.) As cool as Jamie is, it sounds like he expected a bit too much from his Bus - perfect performance, all the time (like a workhorse in a kitchen?) Here's the general rule for old VWs: They always break down at the worst times; They have their own idiosyncrasies, and don't even try to fuck with them!; And never, ever, rely on one to work when you need it most (they have a mind of their own!) It's not at all like the dreamy comment from Jamie's wife, Jools, "It's a campervan. Every boy's dream," she claimed, in the first video. They are temperamental, eccentric, and can be downright cantankerous! Hey! Number One Son is 19 years old, and he knew enough not to drive the van across country (USA) late March, on his way to Oregon! Yes, he loves the van (and the girls (some verbotten) who love him, for his van - it's not really his.) But he was practically born in it (literally.) He has a true understanding of how "awesome," or "sick" they can appear ( they're like a fucking drug), and of how frustrating they can be to the owners (like a dominatrix - she gives you pain, but way too much pleasure too, but not regularly, only when she feels like it.) That's what owning an old VW (not just a Bus) is like (and our family has two!)

Instead of VB going all around the Internet reinterpreting everyone else's assessment of Jamie's trip, and pretending she knows what she's talking about, and mucking it up, let's watch Jamie explain it himself. Below, Jamie's journey in his own words, plus views of his VW Bus, with trailer attached, and scenes from the trip.

From CTVNews
"Great escape to Italy afforded celeb chef the opportunity to shake off stresses

Oliver said his two-and-a-half month Volkswagen-bus road trip around Italy -- the subject matter for "Jamie's Great Italian Escape' -- served as a break from the chaos and an opportunity to leave the stresses behind.

It's certainly not a relaxed Jamie who curses at the van when it breaks down and leaves him stranded on a windy Italian road -- all on camera -- but he says the experience was good for his soul despite a few stressful moments along the way.

"It was my chance to escape. My chance to sort of fill up again, shake off any stresses. And to have a two-and-a-half month span in that country was just brilliant."

"The Italian people, if you're keen and you're polite and you've got a smile on your bloody face, they're just so open-minded, they really are."

(Below): Photo from Channel4.

about jamie, questions and answers
"Penguin: What inspires you to create new recipes?

Jamie: Books, people, stories, markets, locations, scenarios - you know, like coming up with the best hangover recipes when you're hungover, or coming up with great portable food recipes when you're living out of a tent or a VW camper."
(Jamie, where's the portable food recipes? Or maybe, the next article answers the question.)

(The engine description in the following two articles does not jibe with Jamie's claim in the Top Gear video below.)
The Good Oil: Jamie Oliver's mobile kitchen for sale
"Saturday May 26, 2007
British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is selling his Volkswagen Kombi, the van he used while filming his TV series on food in Italy. The 1959 model is being auctioned in London tomorrow and is expected to fetch upwards of $100,000. The van has had VIP treatment since Oliver bought it in 1999. It's fitted with satellite navigation, a Play-Station, TVs and a high-spec audio system. Driving the rear wheels is a 2.4-litre VW/Porsche 914 engine. A specially built trailer kitchen Oliver towed around Italy is part of the package."

From CamperVan Confessionals
Nice little earner for Jamie
"Fame, money but no longer with a camper van! Has Jamie Oliver lost his senses?!!" (Hmm, yes!!!!)
"CELEBRITY chef Jamie Oliver sold the Volkswagen camper van he drove around Italy for one of his TV cookery shows for £41,500 yesterday. It had attracted interest from all over the world.
The 1959 Samba had a 2.4litre engine and many gadgets. Nick Wiles, of car auctioneers COYS, said: "This was any Volkswagen camper van enthusiast's dream, coupled with a touch of fame."

And, for those of use who actually have a collection of stackable cookware for the road, all we need is something, you know, recognized (like the crap you can buy from Rachel Ray - gawd, does VB hate that girl.) Jamie, as with any celebrated chef has his own little empire now, including his own line of cookware for the road:
Jamie Oliver reinvents the collapsible kitchen
"It's called the Tefal Survival Kit and it is a set of cooking equipment that fits together into single, nice, neat stack. When taken apart it contains a wok, frying pan, sauce pan, two glass lids, and a universal handle so that you don't burn your fingers."

Take VB's word for it, you can buy these (at least in Europe) anywhere Tefal is sold. Below, pieces we bought in Baku. They reminded us of the camping cookware we had, and there were many separate covers, cooking pieces, and handles to choose from. VB's pretty sure, they're probably cheaper than the "Jamie Oliver" brand.

(Below) Two pieces we bought, with a detachable handle.

About the rise in VW Bus popularity:
The Big Spend: Camping it up...
"More recently, the iconic roadster has become a must-have accessory for the armies of post-war baby-boomers who hanker after former glories, as well as for younger drivers keen to buy into their aura of cool.

Popularity is driving up prices. Ten years ago, a decent second-hand van could fetch £21,000 on average; today, the figure stands at £29,000.

Celebrity is in on the act: chef Jamie Oliver recently sold his VW Camper for £45,000, while a yellow van was given a starring role last year in the hit US film Little Miss Sunshine."

Celebrities love caravans
"Even the rich and famous are getting into a lifestyle long snobbishly regarded as somewhat downmarket. Blazing the trail was Jamie Oliver, who is a member of the Caravan Club and spent thousands of pounds converting a 1950s VW bus into a modern mobile home complete, of course, with a cutting-edge kitchen. Last September Oliver shunned airports and limousines when touring the UK to promote a new book, choosing instead to travel with his wife in the Porsche-engined caravanette.
Others who have been spotted perusing the latest models at caravan and motor home shows include Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and comedian Peter Kay."

Ahhh, and also Terri Hatcher. (Photo from Celebrity Cars Blog.)

More on Jamie's Italian Adventure:
Jamie Oliver: Real Guts

From Top Gear - Don't try this at home! (so-to-speak)
Jamie Oliver cooking on circuit

It would have been nice to see Jamie's little adventure. Perhaps when they decide to repeat it, VB will actually be in the right place (geographically), so she can enjoy the trip too. (There are no DVDs available, anywhere in the world for this. They are all sold out, except maybe in China.)


  1. I have been looking all over for a pan with a detachable handle, with no luck. I resorted to buying a pan with a steel handle but it's not ideal, isn't non stick and that handle gets hot on the gass stove.

    I do like Jamie, his shows inspire me....he makes everything look so easy. Rachel's Kitchen is another one I like to watch, she does really simple things and makes them look so nice.

  2. elle: You might be able to find those detachable handled pots like at a Carrefore, or a small appliance shop that sells Tefal. That's where we found ours.