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Jamie Oliver emotional as he opens up about devastating few years

The TV chef's restaurant group went into administration earlier in the year

Hanna Fillingham

Jamie Oliver has opened up about the collapse of his restaurant group in a new interview and emotionally admitted that "the past four and a half years have been the hardest of my life," because he was unable to save his business. Talking to You magazine, Jamie said: "It is what it is, but I think that's been very physically, mentally and financially tough – that was a tough one to swallow." He added: "It was a little bit like someone who was very unwell. We nearly got there. And I thought I could get there, most importantly." Jamie tried everything he could to save his business, including putting £4million of his own money into it. He revealed that when it went into administration, he personally paid all of his staff.

Jamie Oliver was devastated after his business went into administration  

In May, Jamie said he was "deeply saddened" after confirming that his restaurant group had called in administrators when it struggled to find a buyer. "I appreciate how difficult this is for everyone affected. I would also like to thank all the customers who have enjoyed and supported us over the last decade, it’s been a real pleasure serving you,” Jamie said in a statement at the time. He added: "We launched Jamie’s Italian in 2008 with the intention of positively disrupting mid-market dining in the UK high street, with great value and much higher quality ingredients, best in class animal welfare standards and an amazing team who shared my passion for great food and service. And we did exactly that."

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Jamie has been supported by wife Jools and his family

In June, Jamie had some happier news about his restaurant business, after food-to-go specialist group SSP, which owns Upper Crust and Ritazza Coffee, bought his three outlets at Gatwick Airport – Jamie Oliver’s Diner, Jamie’s Coffee Lounge, and Jamie’s Italian. The rescue deal meant that 250 jobs were saved, and also meant that Jamie still has four of his eateries open to the public in the UK, as his Fifteen Cornwall restaurant is run independently of his group as a charity.

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Throughout everything, Jamie has been supported by his doting wife Jools Oliver. Earlier in August, the couple took their five children on holiday to Cornwall to spend some quality time together after their turbulent year. Cornwall is the family's special place and they have been going there for the past few years. During their time there, they get up early to go surfing, and this year the couple's youngest son, three-year-old River, started to take lessons too. Jools admitted to Red magazine that it can be harder to convince her oldest children to get up at the crack of dawn. "I don't think they realise just how cool it is," she said.