Jamie’s Air Fryer Meals with Tefal, review: Oliver’s patter remains as crisp as ever

Jamie Oliver holding the prosciutto baked fish dish. The air fryer used to cook the dish can seen next to him on the counter
One man and his air fryer: Jamie Oliver with his prosciutto baked fish dish - Channel 4/Chris Terry

In days gone by I would have seen that Jamie’s Air Fryer Meals was subtitled “with Tefal” and cried foul. After all, Jamie Oliver is a long-time Tefal ambassador (where “ambassador” means “he’s paid”) and Tefal make air fryers, and one of Tefal’s super-duper air fryers is used prominently in Jamie’s Air Fryer Meals with Tefal (Channel 4). There was even a QR code in the advert breaks in case you wanted to buy one.

Basically then, Jamie’s Air Fryer Meals with Tefal is itself an advert. It could be called Tefal’s Air Fryer Meals with Jamie. The question is whether this is a problem or not.

I have been watching a lot of YouTube and TikTok cookery in recent months, courtesy of my son (who, through short-form video instruction, is now a keen cook himself). All of this type of stuff is advertising, selling something. Seen that way, what Oliver is doing here is merely playing catch-up. Does it really matter if he’s telling us that air fryers are great because he’s been paid to do it, so long as that fact is apparent in the programme and the recipes work? Personally, I don’t think so. Fifty-minute roast chicken and a remarkable baked Alaska certainly sweeten the deal.

What’s striking about coming back to Jamie after a dousing in YouTube is that he now looks like a born YouTuber from before YouTube was invented. He’s preternaturally enthusiastic, verbally elastic and perfect for the snappy edit. He has been serving up what we now call “content”, smashing, hacking, wanging and happy days-ing it to camera, his whole career.

For this programme he even brought in Poppy O’Toole – the “potato queen” on social media and an air-fryer proselytiser — which is another trick from YouTube land, where there are no competitors, only pals.

Does it work? I mean I haven’t bought an air fryer yet, but only because I haven’t got the countertop space and I’m scared of new things, not because Jamie’s recipes were sponsored by Tefal. I guess it’s about whether you’re a sucker if you know you’re being suckered.