Ben O’Donaghue with Jamie Oliver in Noosa in 2000.
Ben O’Donaghue with Jamie Oliver in Noosa in 2000.

Why Jamie Oliver chain is in trouble

CELEBRITY chef Ben O'Donoghue says the collapse of Jamie Oliver's Australian restaurant chain demonstrates how much families are tightening their budgets.

The chef, owner of Brisbane's Billykart Kitchen, said the decline in restaurant attendance was one of the reasons he signed on to host Channel 9's new series Eat Well For Less.

"I empathise so much with (Oliver). It's a really tough business. Rent is high, it's expensive to employ people and give good quality product," O'Donoghue said.

"People have to cut discretionary spending. Attendance is down. I feel sorry for Jamie. I've spoken to him and he's expressed the same things."

Ben O'Donoghue and Leila McKinnon appear on Channel 9's Eat Well For Less. Picture: Channel 9
Ben O'Donoghue and Leila McKinnon appear on Channel 9's Eat Well For Less. Picture: Channel 9

On Eat Well For Less O'Donoghue, a father of three, and co-host Leila McKinnonassess families' shopping habits, promising annual savings of more than $10,000.

"I've got skin in the game really. I've got a young family. Everyone's on budgets and I've seen the UK version and I thought it was really interesting," O'Donoghue said.

"Obviously it was an opportunity to work on TV again. I think there's a lot of room in this sector for more TV of me and other chefs giving tips."

O'Donoghue said since filming the show he and his wife had slashed their own weekly grocery bill by $80, which would save them more than $4000 annually.

He said one of the keys was to shop at more than one supermarket.

"Our grocery spend will be over $300 and its down to $220 to $250 now," he said. "What stands out is unnecessary purchases that we make.

Eat Well For Less, Tuesday, 7.30pm on Nine