Jamie Oliver has said all of his restaurants would close immediately if it were not for European immigrants who are prepared to work long hours in hot kitchens.
The celebrity chef said British youngsters were “wet” in comparison to their European counterparts, who were “stronger” and “tougher”.
His comments come just a day after he was criticised for remarks he made about the working class diet, citing families who bought large televisions instead of healthy food.
Now Oliver, 38, who is currently promoting his new Channel 4 programme, Jamie’s Money Saving Meals, has told Good Housekeepingmagazine that he thinks “our European immigrant friends” are more cut out for hard work.
Oliver, who has more than 30 UK branches of Jamie’s Italian, as well as three branches of Fifteen, where young unemployed people are taken on as apprentices, said: “If we didn’t have any (European immigrants), all of my restaurants would close tomorrow. There wouldn’t be any Brits to replace them.”
Oliver, who has criticised the work ethic of young Britons before, added: “It’s all very well when people are slagging off immigration and I’m sure there are problems.
“Older people always complain about youth and I think it’s a good thing because it is always changing. The young will be better at different things. But long hours in hot kitchens is not one of them. I have never seen anything so wet behind the ears [as British kids] I have mummies phoning up for 23-year-olds saying to me, ‘My son is too tired’.”
His latest controversial comments follow a row between Labour and Next, the high street clothing chain, and Tesco over their use of foreign workers.
Next said it was forced to hire Polish workers because it could not find enough British people to take temporary summer jobs.
On the working class diet, Oliver, who has added his name to a range of products and restaurants and whose own wealth is estimated at £150 million, told the Radio Times he found it “quite hard to talk about modern-day poverty” as “seven times out of 10, the poorest families in this country choose the most expensive way to hydrate and feed their families.
“The ready meals, the convenience foods.”
He said he wanted to “hug” them and “teleport them to the Sicilian street cleaner who has 25 mussels, 10 cherry tomatoes, and a packet of spaghetti for 60 pence, and knocks out the most amazing pasta”.
Oliver, who was enlisted by the Labour Government to improve the quality of school meals, added: “You go to Italy or Spain and they eat well on not much money. We’ve missed out on that in Britain, somehow.
“Some of the most inspirational food in the world comes from areas where people are financially challenged.”
His comments were however challenged by the Child Poverty Action Group, which said a low incomes can be a barrier to healthy eating.
In the interview with Good Housekeeping, the father-of-four, also spoke about his marriage and his wife’s desire for a fifth child.
He said: “Jools and I have been together for nearly 20 years. I don’t want people to think it’s this heavenly, perfect thing. Of course we fight. But the truth is, we are really happy.
“I love her to bits. She is amazing and the best mum in the world. She is so healthy. She is fit, she has willpower and never drinks any alcohol. I have tried to get her drunk so many times.”
He added: “Jools would love another baby. I don’t know if I can handle it, but she is the boss. Whatever she wants, she will get.”