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Jamie Oliver VS Cyril Lignac
Food / Wine

Jamie Oliver VS Cyril Lignac

By Joffre Agnes

They are both young, attractive, friendly and rich. Talented chefs and brilliant businessmen, Jamie Oliver and Cyril Lignac somehow also miraculously avoided being selfish and pretentious. In short, they are simply rather perfect, but, who is the best? 

There are many points of comparison between Jamie Oliver and Cyril Lignac: for starters, they are both young, rich and rather handsome chefs who have attained media stardom. Both only in their early thirties, they manage to move with the times and offer simple, creative and playful cooking. Showmen with charming accents, socially engaged, housewives' pin-ups, the similarities are striking.

Their creed:  Be creative. Use only fresh products.

Their enemy: Processed and junk food.

Their aim: Prove that anyone can cook good and healthy meals without much time or money.

Result: They have reached God like status...with chefs' hats.

Jamie Oliver, "the Naked Chef"

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver is a young chef with dishevelled hair and eternally teenage style. He is an up-beat and funny showman speaking with his hands, dancing, singing, playing music, eating, drinking and always moving while he’s cooking. A real character. Actually he was the first one to suggest simple and creative cooking to such a large audience. That’s why Brits call him affectionately the “Naked Chef”, not because of his nudity  (though audacious, the cheeky chappy never pushed it that far...) but because of his simple and slightly cheesy but charming style. So, what’s under the chef’s hat?

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver grew up surrounded by fresh produce since his parents owned a pub-restaurant in Essex. He studied catering himself and then began working in restaurants. One day he got filmed by a TV Channel making a documentary about the restaurant he worked at: a new talent was revealed. Five TV producers asked for him after seeing the documentary… In 1998, the “Naked Chef” was born. TV shows just happened one after another and so did the bestsellers.  In 2002, Jamie embarked upon his most ambitious project. He took 15 under-privileged youngsters who had never been anywhere near a restaurant kitchen and turned them into professional chefs to work under him at his new restaurant, Fifteen, in London. This restaurant was entirely self- finded and was anything but a safe bet. Eventually both the restaurant and the TV show, “Fifteen” found success (benefits are go to an association). Then he began a crusade against processed food in schools and even earned a MBE for  his commitment… In brief Jamie Oliver is as admirable as he is nice and besides,  he really is rather cute. Unfortunately for us, he is also very happily married! Oh well, one can fantacise...


Cyril Lignac, the Challenger

Cyril Lignac
Cyril Lignac

Cyril Lignac is often referred to as the French Jamie Oliver. True, he sparked off the same passion as the British “Naked Chef” and preaches the same message on television.  In France, you would have had to be hiding away in a bunker to have missed him these last three years: on TV, on the cover of one of his books, on the packet of your frozen food, in the tabloids… He is even the voice of one of your cartoon character( in Ratatouille's French version)! Nice, handsome, trendy, inventive, famous and rich, the only thing to potentially put you off about Cyril Lignac would be his hyperactivity, but you really would be splitting hairs...

Cyril Lignac
Cyril Lignac

From the Aveyron (South France), where he grew up, Cyril Lignac has kept the accent and the passion of Mediterranean food. He made his catering classes there before moving to Paris and starting work. Then, similarly to Jamie Oliver, he was discovered by the producers of a French TV Channel (M6) and began his TV career. “Oui chef” is clearly a French version of the British “Fifteen” and turned out to be just as successful. Cyril Lignac’s restaurant would even be named, by a curious coincidence, “Le Quinzième” (fifteen in French). According to the chef, it’s just because it is located in the 15th  Parisian arrondissement. Nothing to do with Jamie Oliver. But the similarities don't end there. The two next TV shows have been inspired by the Naked Chef too: “Chef la recette” and “Vive la cantine” where Cyril Lignac fights against junk food in schools and tries to improve school menus. Currently, he takes up a new challenge: to make teenagers appreciate good produce and find pleasure in cooking. At the end of the show, the teenagers come to Paris and have to prepare a dinner for Ministers. Quite an incentive! So Cyril Lignac: marketing copy of the British Naked Chef or inventor in the same vein? Whatever it might be, the Cyril Lignac phenomenon is not about to stop! So, French people, let’s get ready to cook! A vos fourneaux!



The Match 

The Best Chef?

I'm hardly qualified enough to judge them on their work, so, all I can say is that they are both very talented chefs. However, and I am potentially slightly biased to home-grown Cyril Lignac's recipes. As a French person I do appreciate a bit more subtlety and sophistication compared to Jamie's delicious but very British food! Besides, Jamie Oliver's TV shows don't always set your taste buds racing to quite the same extent - this could have something to do with the occasionally odd foods and his penchant for slurping beer whilst cooking. I think I personally find Cyril Lignac shows a bit more appetizing.

Jamie Oliver 0 - Cyril Lignac 1 

The Best Showmen?

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver
Cyril Lignac
Cyril Lignac

I'm sorry Cyril but There really is no comparison. Have you ever seen him singing "Lamb curry, give it to me hot", dancing, playing drums and cooking at the same time? And that's not so unusual. Jamie's shows are always entertaining: always acting like a hyperactive school-boy touching everything, eating and drinking. Some love it, some hate it but the show definitely goes on. Cyril Lignac is really very nice and his accent lights his shows up but still, he lacks Jamie's talent for entertainment.

Jamie Oliver 1 - Cyril Lignac 1 

The Most Inventive?

Both are young and modern men which have shattered the image of cooking in their respective country, created a new kind of TV shows, of recipes books... But, who is the most inventive? Once again, Jamie Oliver is the pioneer.  He has created this new style or more exactly, he is this new style and not a marketing creation (though undeniably highly accomplished in this, too). From the experimental "Fifteen" to his action in schools, Jamie Oliver has a lot of new and brilliant ideas. Cyril Lignac has just revived it, in his own way but it does beg the question: revised or plagiarised. I would avoid saying that to him, however, might just lose it. He has repeatedly insisted in the French press that he has absolutely nothing to do with Jamie Oliver, who is just a showman whereas he is a great chef. Well, he could at least be grateful... Cyril Lignac is in fact clearly a kind of French Jamie Oliver created by TV producers, but, the fact remains that he is talented. 

Jamie Oliver 2 - Cyril Lignac 1 

The Nicest  Guy?

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver
Cyril Lignac
Cyril Lignac

Jamie Oliver and Cyril Lignac are both people it must be delightful to have dinner with. Agreeable and funny, they are both undoubtedly good company. Difficult to decide between the two chefs. And yet, watching their shows it seems that Jamie Oliver is the nicest. Let's take an example. Jamie Oliver's TV show about forming young people without any experience was called "Fifteen" because they were a team of 15 people. Cyril Lignac's revival was called "Oui Chef!". Less team-spirit, more hierarchy, Cyril Lignac just appears less nice! Plus, he debunked Jamie whereas he never said anything mean! Sorry Cyril but this lack of fair play I can't forgive!

Jamie Oliver 3 - Cyril Lignac 1 

The Most Committed? 

Once again, Jamie Oliver's commitment goes back further and seems deeper rooted.  School Dinners lead to a massive campaign with support from parents, teachers, kids and even a few governments all over the world. And, eventually he made things better. He even got an MBE.

Jamie Oliver 4 - Cyril Lignac 1 

The Most Famous?

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver
Cyril Lignac
Cyril Lignac

Jamie Oliver and Cyril Lignac are huge stars in their countries. The Naked Chef is a global name. His books are translated, Fifteen restaurants have opened around the world...

Jamie Oliver 5 - Cyril Lignac 1 

The Most Handsome?

This, obviously, is an important point! Between eternal teenager with dishevelled hair and metrosexual man with trendy sunglasses, between the blond and the brown-haired guy, my heart simply teeters. What about you?

Jamie Oliver 5 - Cyril Lignac 1 

The Trendiest? 

Whether you love casual style or not, you have to admit that Jamie Oliver's classy approach to food hardly extends to his dress sense- There comes an age when a grown man simply can't get away with wearing hoodies and velcro trainers. Cyril Lignac is much more fashionable and elegant.

Jamie Oliver 5 - Cyril Lignac 2 

The Best Match? 

Jamie Oliver and his wife
Jamie Oliver and his wife
Cyril Lignac
Cyril Lignac

So, According to this, Jamie Oliver would seem to be the best match. And I'm sure he is... for his wife Jools. Sorry ladies but all your hopes are in vain since the happy couple are expecting their third child and look happier than ever. It is said that Jamie is hoping for a little brother for his two daughters, Poppy Honey, six, and Daisy Boo, five. The Naked Chef appears to be as perfect a husband and father as he is a cook. Worry not, if it's a young hunky chef you fancy, you could still cross the Channel and try to seduce the beautiful Cyril Lignac who doesn't have a girlfriend as yet. Hurry up! Don't loose such an opportunity, you may not be the only one charmed by his cheeky smile...

Jamie Oliver 5 - Cyril Lignac 3


Ouch! Sorry Cyril but the defeat is obvious.


30/08/2010 - dorothyspoppyfield said :

Fun article! It made me laugh, and Jamie won! Although I am a bit biased, I've been watching Un Diner presque parfait: Combat des régions, and Cyri Lignac has really been irritating me. He's got so big headed.

16/08/2010 - samook said :

First, this is a very good article! I read few others about the same topic and this is much more fair and funny, nice joby Agnes!!

I am agreed with Sandra and it's usually hard to compare 2 chefs but in this special case, I think they are more than only chefs cooking food, they are serious businessmen and successful showmen!!

To be honnest, I would not spend any money in going to any of their restaurants. There are so many talented chefs being more creative, making complex and intelligent cuisine than Cyril and Jamie. I do think that they are not fantasctic chefs at all. Look at Ferran adria, olivier roellinger, they are wizards in a kitchen!!

Going back to the main point of this article; I am following Jamie from the early days, cooking in his flat for his mates until his last (and so boring/patetic) campaign in the US and it's so bloody obvious that Cyril has been extremly well inspired by Jamie and the pity is that he completly denied any comparision with Jamie Oliver.
Such a shame for the French (and I am one of them) for not being more creative and showing good and innovative cooking programs. "Allez la France", we can do much better!!

03/08/2010 - sandra.ober said :

Let us start with the lack of sense of this article.
The first things they check when you go to an interview are obviously your physical appearance, you look, and the most important, they obviously want you to have a girlfriend and to be famous!
Well I do not think so. As far as I know (which is a little), they want you to cook good quality meals. Yes they do, surprising isn't it?
Then how can you actually seriously compare two very different chefs? They do not cook the same kind of food. By the way, Oliver can only be inventive in his food considering the lack of cooking culture in England.
Concerning the fact that Lignac does the same programs than Oliver, well mind you Bibiane Godfroid (productor) bought the rights of Jamie's Kitchen program. This is the present world, we see something somewhere else and just copy it! Unfortunately, that is the way our society works. Everything is about selling and making you buy unnecessary products.
I never went to Lignac's restaurant but I did go at Oliver's Westfield Italian restaurant. Well: I will never go back. The food was expensive and of very bad quality, the portion ridiculously small.
To sum up, this is a very poor quality article...

21/04/2010 - kroywen said :

Hi there !

You dare to compare Jamie Oliver and who ???
I'm sorry i did not well understood. Who ?
Sorry i don't know him, that, it ... :)))
I'm french by the way
cook is my passion too

but please
compare what is comparable :)

09/04/2010 - Lali said :

I am french .. Cyril Lignac is very bad and very Boring !!! Jamie is a really artist. Sorry i dont speak english =) Cyril Lignac is not a Chef ! reproduit toutes les emissions de Jamie mais avec 5 ans de retard... Pur produit de la chaîne TV francaise M6 c'est tout. Jamie Oliver est pour moi par contre un vrai exemple ( je suis dans le métier ) et il est unique.

04/02/2009 - magnificent_moosettina said :

Very good article, cleverly thought out, well reasoned,and for once a victory for Britain in the food stakes,( or should that be steaks?). As one says after a good meal to misquote from Dicken's Oliver Twist "may we have some more, please?"


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