The Diary: Jamie Oliver rumours hot

Also: Business elite, politicians, celebs toast Valerie Adams' London success

Jamie Oliver is said to be keen to extend his brand into New Zealand. Photo / File
Jamie Oliver is said to be keen to extend his brand into New Zealand. Photo / File

Rumours were flying this week that Jamie Oliver is set to open a restaurant at SkyCity, where foodies Al Brown and Sean Connolly front eateries. But the casino giant told The Diary it is not in talks with the celebrity chef about his Jamie's Italian restaurant chain.

Pity, really. His rustic-style eateries would fit in well with SkyCity's Federal St hub and the company's extension plans.

SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison told The Diary early this year that the company was pleased with the success of the Federal St complex and plans to expand were on the cards.

Kiwi celebrity chef Nic Watt, from hip London Japanese restaurant Roka, will open a Japanese Robatayanki-style restaurant. The Diary understands the ground-floor brasserie Rebo, which sits in SkyCity's atrium and across from popular eatery Depot, is the likely position.

As for Oliver, the Australasian licensee that operates Jamie's Italian restaurants has long held plans to extend into this country.

The British celebrity chef - who is estimated to be worth £150 million ($294 million), according to the Sunday Times Rich List - is said to be keen to extend his brand into New Zealand. Sources say potential sites are being explored.

Across the Ditch there's a Jamie's Italian in Sydney's central business district and another will open next year in Perth.

Oliver's plans to open his restaurants in New Zealand were thwarted this year after it was embarrassingly revealed that the person hired to scout premises, ex-restaurateur David Williams, is a banned company director and the subject of an investigation by the Ministry of Economic Development's national enforcement unit.

Val's gold medal sacrifice
The gold medal ceremony for Valerie Adams at The Cloud on Wednesday night was a highly emotional affair, with the Governor-General even stifling sobs.

But later that night, after the impressive fireworks display had long petered out, a more relaxed Adams opened up, telling a crowd of VIP guests (read strangers) she hoped her love life would improve now her Olympic training was over.

"It's been really hard, you know. I've been sleeping on a single bed for nine months with my feet hanging off the end. It's not like you can take anyone back there," Adams said frankly.

The crowd giggled. Refreshing honesty is just one of the charms of the endearing Valerie Adams.

ANZ Bank hosted a private cocktail soiree for 200 top customers, IOC officials and Kiwi Olympians on the mezzanine level at The Cloud.

Red Shed magnate Sir Stephen Tindall and billionaire businessman Graeme Hart were among the crowd, which also included Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye and councillors Chris Fletcher and Arthur Anae.

Hart's socialite wife, Robyn, cut a glamorous figure in a glittering gold skirt with handbag, as if in a sartorial shout-out to the gold medal ceremony.

TVNZ Breakfast darlings Toni Street - who is due to give birth in two weeks - and Rawdon Christie were hobnobbing with guests, but Petra Bagust was noticeably absent.

Christie, who was sporting a cut on his lip, the result of a run-in with a squash racquet, shares an evidently warm friendship with Street.

In big-brother mode, he teased her mercilessly about a henna tattoo on her hand that she'd received at a Bollywood-themed dinner party hosted by Tamati Coffey.

Laura McGoldrick, a Sky TV presenter, MC'd proceedings at the party sporting no shortage of confidence, while John Hawkesby played compere at the gold medal ceremony.

The ceremony at The Cloud, hosted by the ANZ Bank, had a capacity crowd of 2500 people, drawing criticism from some corners for the limited numbers.

The entire country, especially the Tongan community, wanted to share in Val's moment, critics argued. Why wasn't it held at a footy stadium?

But an insider behind the event told The Diary the New Zealand IOC came to ANZ, a sponsor of the Games, for financial help in hosting Adams' medal ceremony.

"If ANZ hadn't said, 'We'll host it', who else would have stepped up?" the source said.

The fireworks displays in Auckland and Wellington are understood to have cost the bank $50,000, while the private cocktail party and gold medal ceremony are estimated to have cost around $200,000.

Another Kiwi vampire

Alan Ball, who created hit series True Blood and launched Anna Paquin's vampire career, has cast Outrageous Fortune actor Antony Starr in his action drama show Banshee.

Starr has landed the lead in the 10-episode TV series playing an ex-convict who assumes the identity of the sheriff of Banshee. A trailer has been released and the series will premiere in the States next year. Filming is under way in North Carolina.

- NZ Herald

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