Oliver is best known for his previous TV series, The Naked Chef, where his energetic presentation and simple approach to cooking won over legions of home cooks. But now he’s parlayed his passion for food into a desire to change in the way people eat in America.
If you haven’t yet caught the reality show, it chronicles the chef’s adventures in Huntington, West Virginia, a small town with a community full of health issues related to food. Jamie fights to shake the town up, evolving the elementary school’s lunch from the daily intake of chocolate milk and chicken nuggets, working with a family who cooks almost every meal in a deep fryer, even embracing a group of teens who want to help make a difference in their town and making them his ambassadors.
Of course, there are the fairly predictable roadblocks, which seem obviously set up for “reality” television — the mean lunch lady, the skeptical radio DJ, the ticking clock as Jamie attempts to teach 1000 people to cook by the end of a week. Will he or won’t he make it? Well, duh. So yes, some of the show’s appeal gets lost when the producers highlight contrived tension that we all know very well will be resolved by the end of the hour.
What is not contrived, however, is Jamie’s zeal for change and his ability to rally the masses and make a difference in the town without ever once shaming anyone. Instead, he shows them — and us — that homemade, unprocessed food can be easy to prepare, healthier than McAnything, and it doesn’t all have to be natural or organic either. This is clearly a guy who really cares.
So, cheers to Jamie Oliver for starting a movement. And inspiring more than just that little town. -Kristen
Watch Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Friday nights 9am/8pm central on ABC. And for more information about his food revolution campaign in the US, visit JamieOliver.com where you can also sign a petition to save cooking skills and improve school food across America. (Get on it, Dakota readers! You’re falling behind.)