I usually start the day by hitting the snooze button a few times, before rushing to get ready for work – unless I have an early shoot, in which case I am up and out the door as soon as possible.
When I arrive at work I usually deal with emails, print off recipes that I am testing and write shopping lists. At some point along the way I grab some toast, usually involving marmite and smushed avocado. If you haven’t tried it, do it – you will never go back!
My role as a food stylist in Jamie’s food team is so varied. We do everything and anything, but my main jobs are testing recipes, cooking and styling food for various shoots – photography, TV, advertising and other live events. I also help in developing recipes, prop styling (picking out props for shoots) and set dressing studio kitchens and other spaces.
There is no ‘normal’ day in the world of Jamie’s food team. One day I could be prepping for a massive shoot, which involves making lots of lists, doing lots of shopping, going to the props houses or picking out props from our props cupboard, cooking, packing up equipment, loading our vans – the list goes on. Or it could be a much simpler day, writing recipes for the Jamie magazine, or testing recipes, which involves being in the kitchen all day.
The food team is so important to what Jamie does – it covers all things foodie. We all help to make sure he is supported and that his high standards are met in every project. There are times when I work one-on-one with Jamie, getting him set up for filming, a live demonstration or PR event, but mostly it’s in a team set-up, where we are all running around behind the scenes with Jamie there doing his thing.
Jamie knows I’m a Christian and really respects that. To quote the thanks page in his 15 Minute Meals cook book: “Christina ‘Boochie’ MacKenzie, thanks for reigning in my swearing.” It makes me giggle, but it’s sweet I have that effect. Jamie called me Christina Scaraboochie and sung a funny song when I first met him while doing work experience in the food team about six years ago. It stuck and Boochie became my work nickname.
I felt God opened a door for me to be able to get that opportunity to do work experience there in my second year of university. It led to a year placement and then a full-time job after university.
I’ve had many great conversations with people within the business and in my team about God and my faith. I feel that under the high stress and pressure that my job can sometimes bring I have an inner peace that I get from God. Many people in my team say that I’m always very calm and a peaceful influence – especially during some of the more stressful situations.
We have an event at Christ Church called Love London Sunday once a year, which is when we celebrate what we as a church are doing. We have different people interviewed on stage, videos showing stuff that’s been happening in different small groups, live music and cake – that’s where I come in. This year I made chocolate fudge cake for each person who came to church. The team must have baked enough for about 400 people, plus a ‘display’ cake to have for people to see when they came in. I ended up cheating with this a little as we didn’t want to waste cake! It was polystyrene boxes with icing on top. Shh!
Sometimes if I have been cooking all day at work I am a bit over food by the evening. Thankfully my husband is a great cook and happily whips us up a homemade curry or quick pasta. An amazing perk of the job is often we get to take home lovely cooked food, so you never go hungry.
I generally spend my evenings’ just chilling out. After a busy day I don’t tend to have loads of energy to do much, and I often finish working quite late, so don’t have much of an evening. When I do finish at a good time, it is always nice to eat a nice meal together with my husband or eat out together or with friends. We live in a really creative and foodie area in Hackney, so we always come across new and exciting pop-ups, markets, cafes and restaurants.”
Christina Mackenzie is a food stylist for Jamie Oliver. She lives in East London with her husband and new baby, Jonah. She goes to Christ Church, London, which meets at Mermaid Theatre christchurchlondon.org