We flew from Sydney to Melbourne Friday midday, after checking into our apartment, we went for a lovely walk in the sun through Fitzroy Gardens, to a Cafe in Richmond for a late lunch. As I prepared myself to go to Jamie Oliver later in the afternoon, I had mixed feelings of excitment and frustration. I was frustrated at myself for make such a big thing of getting picked to go up on stage and meet him. I was wanting rather to just enjoy the show, without needing to worry about that!! However, still within me the hope and desire to meet him bubbled!
We got ourselves ready, I put on the RED shirt to better my chances of being seen in the crowd, and we walked from the CBD to the Hisense Arena for the 8pm show. As we walked into the arena, it was packed out and buzzing, immediately I realised that of the 6000 plus crowd, a good half of them were also attempting to stand out, in hope they too would meet the man live on stage! The seats were numbered, our seats were good but not great, they were a long way from the stage on the side. However, we did have the seats on the end of our row, on an aisle, which made it easy to get out and worked to my advantage later in the show!
A live band "Wonderbrass" played on stage as people found their seats, the excitment and energy in the place could have powered a small third world country I'm sure. At 8.15pm out he came, would you give a big Melbourne welcome to Jamie Oliver LIVE......applause, cheering, women screaming like they were seeing the Beatles or Elvis, the guy is a celebrity and well loved by many. Jamie opened the show playing the drums, whilst cooking a dish of Panfried Scallops, Asparagus & Pancetta with Cannelini Beans in Olive Oil and fresh herbs ...stirring the dish with his drum sticks, it was quite a feat, lots of energy, the crowd loved it.
He called one lady up out of the audience to taste the dish, she came from the VIP section in the front rows. At this point I thought to myself, it is going to be difficult to get up there on that stage, from where I am seated back here on the side. Jamie then talked of his rise to fame, how things started for him, how there were moments where he got breaks, especially getting onto television, which really launched him. Moments where things had happened for him, that were really not planned and quite unforseen. I found these stories so inspiring and hope filled, it stirred and confirmed within me, that when you be yourself and follow your passions, doors can and do open, you just need to be bold and have a go.
He talked of his training as an apprentice chef and one of his mentors at the River Cafe, Rose Gray, who had passed away earlier that week in Britain. As a tribute to her he cooked a dish, he used to cook at the River Cafe " Rotolo with ricotta, baby spinach and mushrooms with crisp sage leaves." This dish was what he was making in the River Cafe, the day a film crew randomly came in and he was filmed for the first time. Jamie was not even supposed to be working in the restaurant that day, it was his day off, but another had called in sick, so he stepped in. He was in the right place, at the right time, doing his thing and later that week he was approached, to do his first television show the Naked Chef TV series on the BBC.... AMAZING!
Back to the LIVE show, once the dish was complete, Jamie said he wanted four people from the audience to come up and taste it. Here is my chance I thought, I leapt from my seat, ran down the aisle we were in and waved my arms wildly, pick me, please pick me!! There was at least another 500 people doing the same thing all over the arena, Jamie picked one from the front, one from the back, one from the left side and THEN....he looked over to the right side where I was, wildly waving and jumping in my red shirt and jeans. (thinking at the same time if he does not pick me, this is going to be a long embarrassing walk back to my seat!) I saw him look over at me and I waved all the more wildly ( the things you have to do!!) and he pointed at me and then he said those words I was wanting to hear "That lady in the RED shirt come on up!" oh yes! yes! yes! he has picked me and off I ran!
What followed was meeting him face to face on stage, shaking his hand, telling him my name and where I was from and then we were seated on the stage table to taste the dish, drink wine and watch the next two parts of the show from the stage. My man Paul was snapping photos and smiling at me, as I enjoyed that half hour on stage, watching Jamie Oliver LIVE up close and as personal as it was going to get. Watching him do what he was made to do, cook, entertain and share it with people. What inspired me the most was that he is just a normal guy, with a big heart and a passion for food and people.
Although being a celebrity has changed his life forever and no doubt his bank account and opportunities are now a lot healthier, it seemed to me he is still just being Jamie. His generosity to a woman who came to the stage seemingly uninvited, who had travelled with her daughter all the way from Malaysia just to see his show, was beautiful. He showered her with gifts and included her in his show, what others may be threatened by, he seems to embrace, he just loves to include people in his journey.
When he was asked, how does he do all he does and balance it with having a family as well, he gave honour to his wife, said he works very hard Monday to Friday and spends weekends with his family. Most of all he said that he has a great team of great people, "I have a team who allow me to do what I am good at, whilst they look after everything I am not good at!" said Jamie.
Of the 6000 people in that arena on Friday night, he invited about 30 people up to the stage, a dream fulfilled for me, that I was one of them. I 'll remember this moment of my journey with a smile, the evening when I met the passionate foodie, talented chef, unprententious, humble, cheeky, funny, opened hearted Jamie Oliver. What a joy it was Jamie Oliver to see you LIVE.