Born and raised in the village of Clavering, Essex, he was educated in London before taking his first culinary engagement at Antonio Carluccio's Neal Street restaurant as a pastry chef. When he moved to serve as a sous chef at The River Café he was noticed by the BBC and in 1999 debuted his television show, The Naked Chef which was followed by his first cook book subsequently becoming the No. 1 best-seller in the UK. After his Naked Chef series, he was endorsed by multiple companies and expanded his television capacity to include a documentary called Jamie's Kitchen; garnering him an invitation from the Prime Minister to 10 Downing Street. In June 2003, Oliver was honoured as a Member of the Order of the British Empire.
In 2005, Oliver initiated a campaign originally called Feed Me Better to move British schoolchildren towards eating healthy foods and cutting out junk food; this campaign was eventually backed by the British government. Soon after he launched his first high-end restaurant, Jamie's Italian, in Oxford in 2008 and hosted a TED Talk winning him the 2010 TED Prize.
James Trevor Oliver was born and raised in the village of Clavering. His parents, Trevor and Sally Oliver, ran a pub/restaurant, The Cricketers, where he practised cooking in the kitchen with his parents. He has two siblings and was educated at Newport Free Grammar School.
He left school at the age of sixteen with two GCSE qualifications in Art and Geology and went on to attend Westminster Technical College now Westminster Kingsway College. He then earned a City & Guilds National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in home economics.
Oliver's first job was a pastry chef at Antonio Carluccio's Neal Street restaurant, where he first gained experience with preparing Italian cuisine, and developed a relationship with his mentor Gennaro Contaldo. (Later in his career, Oliver employed Contaldo to help run his collection of high street restaurants, Jamie's Italian), Oliver moved to The River Café, Fulham, as a sous chef. It was there that he was noticed by the BBC in 1997, after making an unscripted appearance in a documentary about the restaurant, Christmas at the River Cafe.