Top TV chef Jamie Oliver has vehemently denied being involved in serving up exotic species to diners in his restaurant, following a dawn raid by police and the RSPCA on his South London establishment. “This is bloody insane! How the hell could I get a hippo in this kitchen, let alone cook it? There isn’t a bleedin’ oven big enough,” the exasperated cook – who is now threatening to sue the authorities for defamation – told the press. “Do you know what this is going to do to my business if people think I’m going around slaughtering and cooking ruddy lions and marmosets? It’s a frigging disaster!” Police later confirmed that they had indeed been searching the restaurant for endangered species as a result of a tip-off. “We had reliable information that he had at least three giant pandas and possibly an elephant hidden in the larder,” said RSPCA Inspector Melanie Wicket. “According to our sources, he was planning an exotic menu for a party of one hundred Thai businessmen this lunchtime – an elephant could have provided one hell of a rump steak! However, we could find no trace of any such animals on the premises.”

Despite this failure, conservation groups continue to blame the decline of the world’s exotic animal species upon the upsurge in popularity of high cuisine. “Thanks to the popularisation through TV of exotic dishes, the general public is demanding ever more unusual tastes and eating experiences to nourish their easily jaded palates,” explains World Wide Fund for Nature spokesperson Herman Frencher. “Over the past five years we’ve seen a shocking decline in species such as the tiger, the okapi and even the orang utang. Simultaneously, delicacies such as fried elephant trunk, basted tiger’s scrotum stuffed with chestnuts and raw ape’s brains have appeared ever more frequently on restaurant menus in London! I’ve even heard of hard-boiled rhino’s testicles being served in giant egg-cups to visiting Russian businessmen as a delicacy in one establishment! We never had this sort of thing when the average Briton’s idea of haute cuisine was to put sauce on their egg and chips!” Jamie Oliver remains bemused but such allegations. “Luv-a-duck! When have I ever had cream of rock python soup or mountain gorilla fillets on the bleeding menu?” He asks. “I challenge this geezer to find any mention of cooking endangered species in any of my books or TV series! Not only that, but how the hell would I be able to smuggle anything like a frigging elephant or giraffe into the country, let alone my kitchen, without anybody noticing?”

Frencher remains adamant that Britain’s celebrity chefs now pose a major threat to the world’s endangered species. “Obviously this sort of thing isn’t going on openly – you can’t just walk into a restaurant off of the street and just order chimpanzee chops or sperm whale sausages! It’s more like a secret society, with menus and venues being passed around covertly amongst the cognoscenti,” he explains. “As for getting the animals into the country – it is no more difficult than smuggling thousands of illegal immigrants into the UK! Only last week a dead zebra was found strapped underneath a lorry and thirty eight ring-tailed lemurs were found hanging onto freight cars on a channel-tunnel train!” There are also illicit domestic sources of exotic animals. “There have been a number of disappearances from zoos – a keeper at Falmouth Zoo swears blind it was violent super chef Gordon Ramsey he saw stuffing two armadillos and a couple of penguins into a sack one night last week, but was unable to catch him – not to mention private collectors of such animals. Despite their claims to be keeping these creatures for breeding purposes, to help keep the population up and avoid extinction, we believe that many are secretly selling them to restaurants,” says Inspector Wicket, adding that celebrities who supposedly ‘rescue’ animals are also coming under suspicion. “We have very good information that a collection of exotic animals – including at least three springboks and a timber wolf – which were supposedly bought and rescued by Jamie Oliver from a Lancashire wildlife park which had been forced to close, were gassed and butchered by him within minutes of their purchase! Apparently he was so keen that he couldn’t even wait for the park to close before he started – he shot and dismembered a llama in front of a group of kiddies!”

The TV chef is outraged by such claims. “Bloody ‘ell missus, this is just going too bleedin’ far! Those animals were all released back into the bloody wild! Can’t I even commit a philanthropic bloody act now without being accused of being a vivisectionist?” Says Oliver, who is worried that adverse publicity generated by these allegations could jeopardise his much anticipated move into acting – he is currently poised to replace Robin Askwith in a revival of a series of popular 1970s sex comedies, starting with Confessions of a Mockney Tosser (‘Bloody ‘ell, I only said to toss me salad, missus!’). “Anyway, I don’t reckon there’d be any market for these exotic food they’re on about. I mean, even garnished with a red wine sauce and served with a light sprinkling of chopped herbs, marinated tiger’s penis is far too tough and stringy to chew… Or so I’ve heard.”

However, Oliver does concede that celebrity cooking is a cut-throat business and chefs who fail to keep pandering to their customers’ ever more exotic tastes are liable to fall spectacularly from grace. “Just look at Marco-Peire White, one minute he’s the enfant-terrible of British cuisine, the next he’s reduced to running a kebab van in Leyton,” ponders the young wonder-chef. According to Wicket, the exotic cuisine fad isn’t just confined to high class restaurants and their clientele. “Plenty of ordinary working people are trying it for themselves at home – working from secret cookbooks by the likes of Deliah Smith,” she claims. “A couple of months ago we raided an ordinary terraced house in Ilford and in the kitchen found a leopard roasting on a spit and an elephant seal simmering gently on the stove. Apparently they’d obtained the animals by mail order via an illegal website!”

Frencher fears that this culinary fad could result in mass extinctions. “It’s just like the mammoth all over again – eaten into extinction by the greed of man,” he sighs, referring to the extinction of the giant woolly elephant in the Ice age, following the establishment of a chain of Neolithic burger bars by Cro Magnon Man. “Of course, once the thrill of killing and eating the world’s most exotic animals wears off, there’ll be only one avenue for these people to follow – devouring the most dangerous game of all! Why else do you think Jamie Oliver ‘trains’ all those young yobs in his restaurant, eh? Just how many of them ever qualify, or are even seen again?” When The Sleazeconfronted Oliver with this latest allegation, he quickly became apoplectic and proceeded to chase us out of his restaurant with a meat cleaver, shouting: “Stone the bleedin’ crows! You’ve gone too bloody far this time you bastards – come here again and you’ll find yourselves served up as a side dish!” A frightening foretaste of things to come, perhaps?