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Lovely jubbly: UK celebrity chef Jamie Oliver plans to open Zurich restaurant

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Photo: Jamieoliver.com.
11:30 CET+01:00
UK celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is looking to open a new ‘Jamie's Italian' eatery in Zurich as early as this year despite being plagued by poor financial results.

The chef – apparently a fan of such classic Swiss dishes as fondue and barley soup from the canton of Graubünden – said as far back as winter 2016 he would open a restaurant in the Swiss financial hub if he could find the right partner, and it seems that is now the case.

Oliver has teamed up with Hungarian restaurant entrepreneur Roy Zsidai for the planned project, according to Swiss weekly Schweiz am Wochenende. Zsidai told the paper he was already scouting locations for a Jamie’s Italian eatery and that the restaurant would be opened this year if all went to plan.

Jamie Oliver has in the past praised the Swiss who are among the biggest buyers of his books.

“The Swiss are unbelievable, they are maybe my most faithful customers,” he was quoted as saying on Swiss news site 20 minutes.

But it remains to be seen whether financial considerations will derail Oliver’s infatuation with Switzerland and his plans to muscle in on an already crowded Italian restaurant scene in Zurich.

Jamie’s Italian confirmed in January it was closing 12 of its UK restaurants saying was about ensuring the brand was “in good shape for the future”.  And recently, the UK’s Sun newspaper cited court documents reportedly showing the Italian restaurant chain had racked up debts of £71 million pounds (83 million francs).

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Zsidai told Schweiz am Wochenende the problems only affected the UK part of the business and the international chain was a separate entity.

But the reputation of the chef who could once do no wrong has lost some of its sheen in recent years. His foray into the French market was panned for its “bland food” while his Union Jack’s pizza chain went belly up.

And perhaps even more seriously, Oliver incurred the wrath of people in Spain’s Valencia region by suggesting chorizo sausage was a legitimate ingredient for the rice dish paella. He even received death threats for what many saw as gastronomic blasphemy.

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