Not content with prising turkey twizzlers from the mouths of malnourished British schoolchildren; or attempting to replace every takeaway menu in every household in the land with his recipe for lasagne, Jamie Oliver has decided to try his hand at match-making. The television chef is launching a new lonely hearts section on his website, www.jamieoliver.com. A joint venture with Match.com, one of the world's biggest online dating services, it aims to unite singletons through their shared love of food.
"You never know, we could have the first Jamieoliver.com / Match.com marriage," says the famously bumptious chef on his website. "And I could do the catering!" As well as providing the usual GSOH-type information exchange, the portal, whose tagline is "where food lovers meet", also has recipe ideas for what to cook one's beau on a first date. Recommended are such amorous offerings as oysters and dark chocolate.
Perhaps not surprisingly, there is little mention of garlic. The emphasis, with such meals as crostini with buffalo mozzarella and chilli, followed by citrus-seared tuna with crispy noodles, herbs and chilli, and lemon, lime and peppermint sorbet, is on speed and convenience - presumably in order to leave ample time to get to know one another, while avoiding the risk of hot oil explosions or singed eyebrows.
Just in case your sample menu isn't enough to seal the deal, there are dating tips from someone who "waited tables throughout New York City" on such deal breakers as how to choose the right restaurant for a first dinner date (go somewhere you've been before to avoid nasty surprises, but not somewhere you've been too often, in case he or she thinks you take all your dates there). There is also advice on how to interact with your waiter (tip generously - minimum 20 per cent), to what to do with the bill (he will probably pay - but he might not, so don't make a conveniently timed trip to the bathroom as it's arriving, just in case).
Other articles discuss the types of food that can make you fall in love (among them cheese, pomegranate juice, sushi and pumpkin seeds) and will strike a chord with those who are too chicken to sign on, but are willing to try anything short of that for a boost in the love department. You could argue that playing cupid is a little beyond the job spec of a chef, but Oliver has been married to his teenage sweetheart, Jules, since 2000 (they have three children). So he can boast a 100 per cent success rate - so far.
"I've always found food to be a really powerful way of bringing people together," he says, "and I thought it would be great if we could get people who love food, to love each other." The adage about getting to a man's heart through his stomach certainly rings true for the people at Match.com. "Research has shown us that 45 per cent of our members want a partner who is a good cook," says its marketing director, Karl Gregory.
As well as offering the possibility of everlasting bliss for those with a shared love of their home smokery, the tie-up has healthy advantages for the house, since Match.com's 6.5 million membership is expected to receive a significant boost, thanks to the foodie fans that Oliver will bring to the table (his website receives 1.4m hits a month). Jamieoliver.com/dating is offering a free 72-hour trial (not available in the UAE), giving three whole days to impart as much information as possible about your love of mushroom picking. It may not result in a match made in heaven. But Jamie Oliver catering on your wedding day? Surely that's worth a little discord.