Did thirteen year old you also have a Jamie Oliver poster on your bedroom door? Yes? No? Well I did. Forget boy bands or pop stars, a Vespa riding chef with a lisp & bedhead hair was my teenage dream. Help anybody who taped over my VHS cassette tape recordings of the Naked Chef. Help them!
Fast-forward a few (many years) later & I still have a soft spot for the original Naked Chef. If you also adore the Jamie Oliver franchise, you should be super excited that you live in Johannesburg! Why all the excitement? Well, Jamie’s Italian is all set to open its first store later this year in the swanky Melrose Arch . Even better news, Jamie’s Italian SA has found their new Group Head Chef – cue new bedroom door chef posters (kidding). Shane Smit & his team will be responsible for the culinary development of the first local Jamie’s Italian franchise. (Shane, you better know how to ride a Vespa).
Hailing from Springs, in Johannesburg, Shane spent a year cooking at the first Jamie’s Italian restaurant in Oxford, which opened in 2008, learning about Italian cooking from Jamie & his team. On his return to SA, Shane worked for a number of five-star establishments before being approached to lend the leading culinary hand in Jamie’s local kitchen. “My heart nearly stopped”, said Smit after hearing of the news (don’t worry Shane, my heart would have nearly stopped too).
Jamie’s Italian will stay true to it’s Italian roots (thank goodness), while combining splashes of local flavour. “Being able to really localise the type of dishes served at Jamie’s Italian, thanks to the relationship we have with local farmers & producers, makes the process of whatever is served & the final product, really genuine & honest”. Jamie would be proud, so, so proud.
A second store is set to open in Cape Town (location still TBC), followed by a further three Jamie’s Italian restaurants expected to open within the next seven years in South Africa.
Follow @jamiesitalianSA on Instagram for snippets & kitchen updates.