Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has issued a video call-out to Australia, asking for volunteers to help him on his next community project.
For the first time across Australia, Oliver is opening all of his restaurants on Christmas Day to host a free charity lunch.
Every Jamie’s Italian restaurant in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide will be open from noon to 4pm. The day will be a non-alcoholic event.
Oliver recorded a video where he explains why he is opening his restaurants on Christmas Day.
“We want to fill them with people that can come in for free, people that will be lonely, people that might be homeless, and people in need,” he said.
“For that, we are going to be working with local charities, my foundation which is The Ministry of Food in Australia which is an incredible set-up that I’m so proud of, with the help from The Good Foundation.
“We are also asking for volunteers, so for those people that would be interested, come down to Jamie’s Italian and volunteer. It’s going to be loads of fun I promise you.
“If you know someone who is going to be lonely, or homeless we are going to spoil them. We are going to spoil them with beautiful food, comfort food, and loads of love, and we are going to laugh a lot.
“So guys, thank you ever so much, I’m really proud of this. I hope you like it to. If you want to get involved reach out, lots of love, Merry Christmas, that is the Christmas spirit. Bless.”
For the day to go off without a hitch, Oliver needs 200 volunteers to help run the four eateries.
Volunteers must be 16 years and over, and will be required to assist with a number of jobs including table setting, food running, table clearing, dishwashing, playing Santa and welcoming guests on the day.
Experience in the hospitality industry is not required.
Jamie’s Italian Australia’s general manager Marlon Kigonya said: “With an abundance of food, family and good times, Christmas is the highlight of the year for so many of us, but for others it can be a time of stress, loneliness and sadness.
“We’re passionate about our communities. We don’t want to see people miss out, feel the financial pressure or be alone on Christmas Day, so we’re giving back in the Italian way — by pulling up extra seats and welcoming people into our family.”
Jamie’s Ministry of Food will be inviting families in their networks to come in for lunch on Christmas Day.
Others who are homeless or alone on Christmas are also welcome too.
Amy Smith,chief executive of The Good Foundation, that facilitates the Jamie’s Ministry of Food program in Australia, said: “Being able to invite these families that we have worked with throughout the year and share a nutritionally rich, festive lunch with all the trimmings that may otherwise put financial pressure on their households is a real treat, something we are excited to be able to offer thanks to Jamie’s Italian Australia.”
The Good Foundation is a not-for-profit established to exclusively deliver Jamie’s Ministry of Food in Australia that has taught more than 50,000 adults and 10,000 children about food and how to prepare it in a healthy way.
The news of Oliver’s next community venture in Australia comes after he recently said he has no more money to save his troubled business empire.
Last September, Oliver ploughed $23 million of his own savings into the previously successful Jamie’s Italian restaurants to stop them from closing.
He has claimed that if any of his restaurants needed financial support he would no longer be capable of providing it.
Earlier this year, Oliver’s restaurant chain, which opened its first business in 2008, revealed it would close 12 restaurants and ask for rent cuts at 11 more as it dealt with debts of $130 million. More than 600 people were made redundant but the chef said that a restructure was necessary to save the remaining 1600 jobs.
Register as a volunteer at one of Oliver’s restaurants on Christmas Day here.