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Jamie does Ronda! PDF
Thursday, 22 April 2010 00:00

Last night on Channel 4 I watched Jamie Does Andalucía, or should it be Jamie does Ronda, for more than three quarters of the programme was devoted to La Ciudad del Tajo and the surrounding Serranía.

No bad thing, however, for those of us with a particular interest in the programme, like me.

When they were filming in the area last July I was freelancing for the Olive Press newspaper, so I and colleagues were busy covering the story of their visit.  Although the Channel 4 production team tried to keep the whole venture top secret, they didn’t succeed and we managed to get good coverage of the story.

The highlight was undoubtedly the paella in Benaoján, which was featured in last night’s programme. That was a massive challenge for the Naked Chef to cook such a huge pan-full on such a hot night with hundreds of cameras snapping away.  I recall congratulating him on a great effort as he served me my plateful of paella.  “It’s bollocks, mate", he muttered, "it takes four hours to make and only five minutes to serve! Amazing!”

Jamie is very popular around these parts, as his programmes are broadcast on a Spanish cooking channel.  However, I think some local people who had been invited to let the celebrity chef and film crew into their homes to film him learning some typical local dishes, gazpacho, tortilla española and borrachuelos, will be disappointed they didn’t feature.

Dolores Sierra, 75, who taught him how to make borrachuelos, a local sweet cake, said at the time:  “Señor Oliver was lovely.  My kitchen is tiny and I don’t speak English, but we got on very well and he seemed to like my cakes.”

Also disappointed will be Elias Vega, proprietor of Restaurante Casa María in Ronda, where the whole crew spent two hours one afternoon having a private lunch sampling local dishes.  At the time Elias told me: “They tasted a full range of our most popular dishes and tried two of my finest wines.  They seemed to have a good time. The bill came to €600.”

Elias and his wife and chef, Isabel Alba, were, needless to say, delighted that they had been chosen.

“I watch Jamie Oliver’s programmes on television, so it was great that he came to eat in our restaurant,” added Elias.

Last night’s programme certainly showed the Serranía de Ronda and Andalucía in a  very good light.  The scenes filmed with locals were fascinating. Carmen (nicknamed Paprika because when she was born she was bright red in colour) talked about the tradition of tapas, in the working men’s bar where she works.  The father and son champion ham slicers were also fun and the rabbit dish cooked with the hunters at night was brilliant.  Other recipes which charmed the viewer were the hangover breakfast and the make-in-the-jug gazpacho, not to mention the barbecued fish on the beach in Estepona.

Back to that giant paella, what the programme didn’t reveal was the list of ingredients, nor the cost.  Here they are, in case you’re planning a big BBQ anytime:

List of ingredients for a paella for 500 people:  50 kg rice, 8 kg octopus, 6 kg clams, 12 kg king prawns, 20 kg pork, 25 kg chicken, 12 kg red peppers, 15 kg tomatoes, 10 kg onions, water.

Total cost €1,000 (£870).

©  Paul Whitelock

For another story about Jamie's visit to Ronda, click "Bollocks!" says Jamie



Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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