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Jamie Oliver's G20 menu

I thought COTMers in particular might get a kick out of this.

Here’s the menu:

And here’s Yotam Ottolenghi’s critique of it.


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  1. In the category of "you learn something new every day" I had never heard of samphire before. When I looked it up I thought it looked like something I'd had on some nature walk near the Palo Alto airport in the San Francisco Bay area. Turns out that is a related plant called "sea pickle" among other things. I remember it being salty. Not much else!

    2 Replies
    1. re: DGresh

      I think it was strange to many of us before seeing it in Ottolenghi's cookbook. Discussion of it here:


      Evidently called "sea beans" here in the States.

      1. re: DGresh

        The first time I ever heard of samphire was watching Posh Nosh on PBS. As Minty Marchmont says, "Embarrass any tough roots from the samphire. Then bamboozle till it's al dente with that certain je ne sais quoi."

      2. Thanks for posting. The menu sounds delicious to me! One can always quibble, but surely it would be unwise to serve daring and adventurous food to a large group with varied tastes.

        1. I just hope his wife doesn't go into (new) labour at a crucial point! Apparently the staff at No 10 are primed.

          I wonder what the Queen served for tea.

          1 Reply
          1. re: greedygirl

            She managed to hang on until this morning - they've welcomed a new baby daughter. With the ahem, unusual name of Petal Blossom Rainbow.

          2. I wonder if his selection to represent the best of Britain reflects his cooking prowess, his work with the kids, or his manners? Were they afraid of setting Gordon Ramsey or Marco Pierre White or any of the other British chefs loose amongst the dignitaries.

            1. I think it was a brilliant menu and he certainly did have appropriate vegetarian alternatives.
              But Joan, I couldn't find Ottolenghi's critique.

              Here's what Jamie wrote in his blog about the dinner...
              I read it earlier and thought that to ask his Fifteen alumni and present interns was a wonderful idea.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Gio

                That's interesting. I can't find the critique any longer either. Even a search of "Ottolenghi," "G20," and "menu" didn't turn up anything. I wonder if they took it down and, if so, why? It really wasn't particularly critical of Oliver; quite the contrary. It was more along the lines of "those mushrooms are out of season, why not serve something else" and "I understand why he's doing lamb" but --in much nicer words--lamb with mint sauce is such a cliche.

                I did find this on Google:


                Their link doesn't work either, but s/he reports on what Ottolenghi had to say.

                1. re: JoanN

                  Well, I guess all this comes under the heading... You can't please all the people all the time...etc. JO decided to showcase typical British food... it that's what it was.... and he did it. Not what others would have done, but he brought the per head cost in at a very low amount and I bet the meal tasted delicious in spite of those mushrooms being out of season...which they probably weren't, just.

              2. A pretty straighforward and unchallenging offering of "modern British" food. I like the way he used regional products - Scottish salmon, samphire, sea kale, the Welsh lamb, Jersey Royals and Bakewell Tart (usually more properly called Bakewell Pudding).

                Samphire is rarely seen on sale as I'm pretty sure it isn't grown commerically. It can be served briefly steamed. French supermarkets often have jars of it pickled, which can go nicely with a oily fish. It's common name is "poor man's asparagus" and you can eat it veyr much like steamed asparagus. Bit salty though, from where it's grown.

                Bakewell's about 35 miles away and we go quite often for a very good farmers market. Can't stand the Pudding though.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Harters

                  I was about to go look up sea kale, wondering whether or not it was the same thing as samphire. Have you ever read "Recipes of All Nations" by Countess Morphy? I'm perusing the English section right now.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Havnt read the book, I'm afraid.

                    Nor have I ever eaten sea kale. It's a striking wild plant growing in very stony coastal ground (much as does samphire - although that's quite tiny - only a few inches high).

                    1. re: Harters

                      Thanks - Countess Morphy wasn't really a countess, by the way - haven't delved into the back story yet. Elizabeth David turned on to her - she wrote in the 1930s, I believe. We do actually find samphire here in NYC - or at least they call it samphire.

                  2. re: Harters

                    I've never heard it called Bakewell Pudding and I used to live closer to Bakewell than you do. My Mum used to make it all the time when I was a kid - it was always known as Bakewell Tart.

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Evidence from the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop:


                      I rest my case, m'lud :-0


                      (PS: Pudding or tart - I really can't stand it. Horrible thing)

                      1. re: Harters

                        I haven't had it for years, but used to quite like it. Lemon meringue pie (another of my mother's baking favourites) - now that's nasty.

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          Lemon meringue pie - now you're talking!

                          One of my mum's specialities - although I'm sure she used a packet mix. Actually, when I say "one", I think she only did two baking things - that and a Victoria Sponge.

                  3. Hmm. The Guardian's menu doesn't list asparagus accompanying the lamb, unlike this write-up of the menu: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/fi...

                    Apparently, President Obama hates asparagus. I smell a cover-up!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: jlafler

                      Let's call M16. First the case of the missing Ottolenghi link and now the asparagus coverup. I think this needs to be investigated!

                      1. re: jlafler

                        I speak here as an official representative of the Asparagus Liberation Front (Marxist-Leninist) and agree that press censorship has once again reared its ugly head in this matter.

                        We have a loose agreement with the liberal Guardian that they will not report the attempts of our spears to escape the clutches (and pan) of celebrity chefs. However, the right wing forces of oppression, as represented by the Torygraph, seem gleefull in recounting that several spears have been captured and murdered to be presented on a plate along with our Welsh ovine comrades.

                        I believe this to be a particularly dastardly deed as it seems that it is our comrades from the Wye Valley who are reported to be captured. Free liberated asparagus can grow properly to maturity but not yet for several weeks. This must be the agricultural oppressor (or Farmer Chinn, if you will) who last year started to kill the spears early after subjecting them to the intense torture of spending their final weeks under the unnatural heat of cloches.

                        We urge all freedom-loving peoples throughout the world to protest this cruelty. You can learn more about the oppressors here:

                      2. This is hilarious. I hadn't seen a thing on this board about Jamie Oliver or his new show on FN and I was going to say that I liked it and see how everybody else feels about it. So I come here, and the first two posts are about jamie Oliver.
                        What are the chances??
                        You have to admit, on FN in this day and age, a program that shows a guy that cooks out of and out in his garden AND shows him doing just that is something different.. His funky outdoor grills and ovens are kind of fun, too.