Jamie Oliver Praises European Immigrants Over Young 'Wet' British Workers

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JAMIE OLIVER MICHAEL GOVE
The TV chef sparked earlier controversy with his comments about poverty | PA

Celebrity chef and good food fanatic Jamie Oliver has accused Britain's young people of being "wet", and suggested they stop "whingeing" and work 80 to 100-hour weeks.

The healthy school dinner fanatic said European immigrants made far better workers and his restaurants would close immediately if he depended on British staff.

"The average working hours in a week was 80 to 100," Oliver told Good Housekeeping magazine. "That was really normal in my twenties. But the EU regulation now is 48 hours, which is half a week's work for me. And they still whinge about it!

"British kids particularly, I have never seen anything so wet behind the ears!

"I have mummies phoning up for 23-year-olds saying to me, 'My son is too tired'. On a 48-hour-week! Are you having a laugh?"

It's not the first time Oliver has made such comments. His views and anecdotes are more than reminiscent of those he made in 2011, when he told The Observer: "I've never experienced such a wet generation.. Meanwhile I've got bullet-proof, rock-solid POlish and Lithuanians who are tough and work hard."

He also delivered the same anecdote in in Wednesday's interview as he did two years ago: "You get their mummies phoning up and saying: "He's too tired, you're working him too hard" – even the butch ones."

The 38-year-old recently sparked controversy when he said he found it "hard to talk about modern-day poverty", citing families forking out on giant televisions instead of healthy food.

He told the magazine: "I think our European immigrant friends are much stronger, much tougher.

"If we didn't have any, all of my restaurants would close tomorrow. There wouldn't be any Brits to replace them."

Oliver said: "It's all very well when people are slagging off immigration and I'm sure there are problems. Older people always complain about youth and I think it's a good thing because it is always changing. The young will be better at different things. But long hours in hot kitchens is not one of them!"

Oliver, whose restaurants include Fifteen, which helps the young unemployed, and more than 30 UK branches of Jamie's Italian, also told the magazine that he would probably end up having a fifth child.

The father-of-four, who was interviewed alongside The Great British Bake Off star Mary Berry, said of his marriage: "Jools and I have been together for nearly 20 years. I don't want people to think it's this heavenly, perfect thing. Of course we fight. But the truth is, we are really happy.

"I love her to bits. She is amazing and the best mum in the world. She is so healthy. She is fit, she has willpower and never drinks any alcohol. I have tried to get her drunk so many times!"

He added: "Jools would love another baby. I don't know if I can handle it, but she is the boss. Whatever she wants, she will get."

Asked if he was romantic, he said: "I'm trying to be romantic! I think men need help sometimes... I etched her favourite poem on to a beautiful vintage mirror once. I've planted trees. I could probably do better."

Oliver, who is worth an estimated £150 million, recently told the Radio Times that most of the poorest families in Britain were choosing expensive rather than cheap food.

The campaigning chef, who has fought to improve school dinners, added: "I'm not judgmental, but I've spent a lot of time in poor communities, and I find it quite hard to talk about modern-day poverty.

"You might remember that scene in Ministry Of Food, with the mum and the kid eating chips and cheese out of Styrofoam containers, and behind them is a massive f***ing TV. It just didn't weigh up."

The joint interview with Mary Berry and Jamie Oliver is published in the October issue of Good Housekeeping, on sale on September 5.