Happy Days with the Naked Chef

Oliver, Jamie

ISBN: 9780141029467

Publisher: Penguin

I am, no doubt, going to annoy some readers when I say this book disappoints in the dialogue that starts each chapter in Happy Days with the Naked Chef. It is in the way he tries so hard to project his common touch that really annoys me. Reading other reviews I am not alone in this option, though I am in no doubt that I am in the minority. It is the use of "bloke speak" that is only there to reinforce the marketing image that is annoying.

Leaving aside the issue of the forced "bloke speak", what about the recipes? Well, it is one of those books that is aimed at the home cook. There are chapters on: Herbs, Comfort Grub, Quick Fixes, Kids Club, More Simple Salads, Something Fishy, Nice Bit of Meat, ...and Loads of Veg, The Wonderful World of Bread, Desserts, Bevvies and You are What You Eat. The recipes in each chapter are prefaced with the little introduction.

Each of the recipes are easy to prepare, cook and serve. There is very few that would challenge a foodie. That is not to take away from the recipes. Food should not be a chore, and simple to prepare food means more time with your family. So, whether it is the Beef Stew with Newcastle Brown Ale and Dumplings or Roasted Fennel with Cherry Tomatoes, Olives, Garlic and Olive Oil, there are tasty dishes to suit all tastes; dishes that will delight everyone.

Special mention has to go to the chapters on Kids' Club and Bread. On the subject of children and food, Jamie makes the point that it is important that children learn about food and cooking. Too many have no idea about food, which is why we have so many obese children in Western societies. Within the chapter Jamie writes from the heart; no 'bloke speak', but genuine desire to put his message about children being involved in food, so they can learn how to cook. Jamie's love of bread making makes the chapter, Wonderful World of Bread good reading. Easy to follow recipes that will give even the most nervous home cook the confidence to give it a go.

So, while I find fault in the commentary, I don't find fault in the recipes. They are basic, but that is not to say they are plain or boring! Food should be a joy, and in Happy Days with The Naked Chef, it should allow the reader to build up a repoirite of delicious dishes that are easy to prepare and enjoyed by the whole family.