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Celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver doing his thing. Celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver doing his thing. Featured
02 March 2014 Posted by 

Parramatta's love affair with Jamie Oliver

By Anthony Stavrinos

PARRAMATTA’S love affair with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver apparently may never have been possible without some wedding tears.

Late last year it emerged that a fourth Australian Jamie’s Italian restaurant was on the drawing board, for Parramatta’s CBD, at the corner of Macquarie and Church Streets.

And the location has already received its fair share of recent media attention – it was the site of the now-defunct Park Avenue bridal boutique that left hundreds of frazzled brides-to-be stranded when it collapsed last August.

The company holding the master franchise for the Oliver brand in Australia and New Zealand, confirmed it was in talks with Parramatta City Council over the site.

“It is very early days but we have had a meeting with the council,” Pacific Restaurant Group managing director Adam Heathcote told The Sunday Telegraph in November.

The first Jamie’s Italian site opened in Sydney in 2011, the second in Perth's CBD in March last year and the third in Canberra on Melbourne Cup day in November.

It’s understood the new Parramatta eatery would have an affordable price point of around $45 for a main and entree, in line with the brand’s three existing outlets, with a focus on attracting repeat patronage rather than a venue hosting events for special occasions.

The newspaper also quoted a council source as saying: “The engineers are currently working on the plans as part of the DA (Development Application) that will go to Parramatta council.”

But it seems that with Council about to consider the DA, it was also involved in a national promotion to bring to Parramatta another of the celebrity chef’s initiatives, Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food Pop Up Kitchen.

Lord Mayor of Parramatta, Cr John Chedid, announced last month (eds: Feb) that the Council would put Parramatta forward as the site of Jamie Oliver’s first Australian ‘pop-up kitchen’, which will offer cooking to the public.

Parramatta City Council, one of many councils and business chambers that are involved in the promotion, is administering a petition and even deploying Council representatives to shoot youtube clips of locals expressing support for the bid to host the pop-up kitchen.

Cr Chedid said Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food would help promote healthier lifestyles and boost the City’s profile.

“It would also fit with our Healthy Generations program, which encourages residents and workers of all ages and fitness levels to commit to a healthy lifestyle,” he said.

“Parramatta is home to a diverse and growing population and we want to educate the community about the importance of healthy habits and encourage people to cook healthy and embrace the rich diversity of cuisines in Parramatta.

“The more support we can get from the community, the more likely our City will be a preferred location of choice.”

Cr Chedid said changes in family life and the convenience of junk food had led to people losing touch with cooking, which was vital for a healthy lifestyle.

But while Parramatta’s online petition appeared an innovative attempt at community engagement, it appears to have been more the work of the Jamie Oliver marketing machine.

Very similar promotions were also taking place throughout Australia, in cities including Salisbury (SA), Wynnum (QLD), Northern Territory and Tasmania.

In a tailored online video message to Australia ahead of his visit this month (eds: March), Oliver urges fans to take part in the promotion (which closes March 5) and nominate an area and reasons why it would make a good location for the pop-up kitchen.

For more information, go to www.jamiesministryoffoodpopup.com or to lend your support to Parramatta’s bid, go to www.parracity.nsw.gov.au/jamieskitchen.



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