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Jamie Oliver Reveals He Has "No More Money" To Save His Business

At 43 years old, British Chef Jamie Oliver is one of the most successful chefs in the world.

Oliver had his breakout moment when he landed his own television show, The Naked Chef, on the BBC in 1999.

He has since hosted numerous other TV shows, written many cookbooks, and opened dozens of restaurants all over the world.

The celebrity chef and father of five opened his first Jamie's Italian location in 2008, and four years later, he ambitiously announced that the restaurant was going global. While it remained successful for a few years, the business has recently struggled with debt.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Jamie's Italian was around $100 million in debt, and in an attempt to save the business, they closed 12 locations, putting more than 600 people out of work.

In August, the troubled restaurateur revealed that his empire was two hours away from bankruptcy, and he had to put more than $16 million from his own savings into the business to save it.

"We had simply run out of cash...and we hadn’t expected it. That is just not normal, in any business. You have quarterly meetings. You do board meetings. People supposed to manage that stuff should manage that stuff," Oliver, who is estimated to be worth more than $300 million, told the Financial Times. "I had two hours to put money in and save it or the whole thing would go to shit that day or the next day. It was as bad as that and as dramatic as that."

At the time, Oliver insisted that things got better and he was "beginning to see a little bit of light out of a very dark year." He also said that he would do the same if the chain was ever in trouble again.

Unfortunately, it seems like he spoke too soon.

During a recent interview with the Mail, Oliver admitted that Jamie's Italian is still in peril, but he hasn't "got any more money," to put into the restaurant chain.

"There’s a point where I can’t put the other side of the business at risk as well and the people who work there," he explained.

Gnocchi dish from Jamie's Italian
Gnocchi dish from Jamie's Italian Awa Thioye/Instagram

Although the TV chef is struggling with his business, he clarified that he "was not broke," and when it came to his personal finances, he is "getting on top of things."

"I haven't got any more [money]. I tried to do the right thing, I've never been paid by the restaurant group, I've always reinvested. My living was always the other side. So I could have just gone 'do you know what? Let it go,'" he added.

After a "challenging" 18 months, it's unclear if Jamie's Italian will be able to bounce back from this, but Oliver is focusing on the positives.

"The upside is I am now fully in control of the restaurant business," he revealed. "It's fully owned by me. We're getting on top of it and we've learned lots of lessons."

In addition to nearly going bankrupt, Jamie's Italian was embroiled in a meat hygiene scandal at the beginning of the year. An inspection revealed that the restaurant's meat supplier was not compliant with the food safety rules.

A spokesperson for Oliver's chain of eateries clarified that no affected food was served and they have switched suppliers.

"We have very strict higher welfare and food standards and to ensure our suppliers uphold these standards, we have an independent team that audits all our key suppliers, including meat," read the statement. "Following an inspection at the end of last year and the fact we have full traceability on our meat, we can confirm that none of the meat we buy would have been impacted."

As someone who has dined at a Jamie's Italian on multiple occasions, I really hope the business can be saved. The food and service are excellent and it'd be sad to see another good restaurant shut its doors.

Awa has been writing for Shared for 3 years. She is a serial snacker who unapologetically loves celebrity gossip. Drop her a line at awa@shared.com.