Jamie Oliver wrote his first cookbook on the back of ‘cigarette packs and coasters’

“I was a special needs kid in school and never thought I’d write a book,” says Oliver (Getty Images)

British chef and restaurateur Jamie Oliver has revealed his first cookbook was made up of recipes he wrote on “the backs of cigarette packets and beer coasters”.

Talk to Radio schedules before launch The Great Cookbook Challenge with Jamie Olivera new TV show airing on Channel 4 this month, Oliver said the possibility of writing a book never crossed his mind because he was “a child with special needs at school”.

The Great Cookbook Challenge will see chefs take part in a host of culinary challenges, testing and working on their recipes, with a cookbook up for grabs.

Oliver made his television debut in 1999, with the BBC series The Naked Leader. Along with the show, he also published a book of the same name, which became a bestseller in the UK.

Recalling his post, Oliver said BBC the producers had initially assumed that he did not have a cookbook ready for publication.

” Too bad. Normally, we make a cookbook with a series,” they told him.

“I said, ‘I have one. I’ve written down all my recipes for the last five years and they’re in a trash bag,” Oliver explained.

He recalled having “hundreds” of recipes, most of them written on the back of cigarette packs, coasters and order checks.

The author credits fellow chefs Marco Pierre White and Delia Smith with inspiring him, telling Radio schedules that the first cookbook he received was from Smith.

“She knew there was a logic between simplicity, accessibility and aspiration. You have to have the right balance,” he said.

Following the success of The Naked LeaderOliver continued his campaign for better food standards in schools and launched the Food Revolution campaign, which aims to halve childhood obesity by 2030.

The Great Cookbook Challenge will air on Channel 4 on Monday 3 January

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