* Prices may differ from that shown
I'm never really sure how much involvement a "celebrity" has in a product - in this case the Jamie Oliver pasta machine, as currently available from Debenhams for £37.50 and also through his party catalogue. The Oliver name wasn't my reason for purchase, I found this pasta machine languishing in the sale section of my Sainsburys, post Christmas for a whole £13. At that price it didn't seem much of a risk, and so, given that I recently learned how to make pasta but lacked the wherewithal to roll my dough really thin I decided to give this a whirl - literally; it's powered by turning a handle. I found out that it's not a bad little machine though I do wonder if the makers (Merison according to the box and not the Essex One) actually expect the machine to be used more than a few times. The lack of a proper manual and the overall build quality of this item would suggest otherwise to me. Though the results I get with this after reading up on how to use it elsewhere are fairly good, if I've learned one thing it's that if you are looking for a proper pasta machine other brands such as Imperia seem to have a better reputation.
As already mentioned there is no manual with this item, the instructions, such as they are, are printed on the box. These consist of a pasta recipe which works (400g of pasta flour to 4 eggs), though tells you to knead the dough via hand, where a food processor does the job better in my experience, and some instructions the first being "set up your pasta machine". The machine comes in 4 parts, a handle, a clamp, the main machine for making pasta sheets and an attachment which, depending on which way round it is set, can make tagliatelle and spaghetti. I would suggest that actually without finding your info elsewhere (the instructions in "the Naked Chef" Jamie's first book pre mega celebrity-dom are actually far better than anything you will get on the box), you wouldn't get very far, in all honesty the printed instructions are pitiful. It's a shame as the machine itself looks quite nice - it comes in silver and also different enamelled finishes, mine is a baby blue similar to the Nigella Lawson ware. It is quite compact (18 x 15 x 24cm) and attaches well to the work top via the clamp, assuming you have worked out what you are supposed to be doing.
Once you have made your pasta dough, which has to be refrigerated for about an hour before use, but which will keep 24 hours, and the machine is in place you can start to roll the pasta ever thinner. Initially you use the main machine on its thickest setting (there are 7 which are changeable via a dial on the side, again as explained badly on the box) and putting the handle into the side of the machine, put it through, a bit like using a mangle. This is not too difficult to do once you know how and assuming once again you are following other instructions than the ones it comes with. Once you have a thin sheet, made by making the settings ever thinner - 3 works for me - you can either use it to make lasagna or ravioli or any shapes you want (farfelle are easy to make by cutting oblongs and pinching the middle like a bow tie), or go on to make tagliatelle or spaghetti by adding the attachment and moving the handle to it. It's not particularly easy to slot on the attachment and I do worry how long the machine will last, it just doesn't appear well made.
That said the results I get when making both all kinds of pasta are good, although I have to take care to dust the pasta once made with more flour or it would clump together, I roll up spaghetti in coils, but there are racks you can buy to put your finished pasta on. The attachment does cut the sheets into strips quite well and they can be fairly easily detached (that's always my daughter's job). The pasta we make is delicious and better than the supermarket fresh pasta, and are worth the effort, though not necessarily a cheaper option. I can't say I make or would make fresh pasta every day but I have used this fairly regularly since I bought it and the kids like to pitch in with the kneading of the dough and turning the handle. We have started to experiment with coloured pasta and different dough mixes. I've found that using the machine carefully nothing has broken yet, but again the instructions fail to tell me how to cook the pasta other than saying it "won't take long" and there's no information on how to maintain or oil the machine, for that I've had to read elsewhere and believe the rollers shouldn't be washed in water and made need oiling from time to time.
Overall then I have to conclude that this isn't an item meant to be used by a serious cook. It was stocked by Sainsbury's just over Christmas in the gift aisle, I suspect it's the kind of thing they expect a husband to panic buy on the 24th to give to his wife who has been dropping hints for a pandora bracelet for months. For my use it's adequate, though the reviews I have read elsewhere suggest I am lucky as many people mention the poor quality or say their machine has broken. Mine is coping so far - the handle is a bit fiddly and it's not intuitive to use but it does achieve better results than a rolling pin. I do think though that this kind of product does make me doubt the validity of an item being celebrity named - this machine is ok but do I think Jamie would actually use something this, not really, I think he would buy something better instead. At full price for what you get (made in China) it's not brilliant and it may well be worth looking elsewhere for a more solidly made machine with better instructions.