The man himself, the Naked Chef, the almighty taste lover Jamie Oliver held a press conference to share his views on food, where it has been and where it is going. He discussed his early life in television and how he used this medium to change lives, spoke of the importance of healthy lifestyles, and touched on ways for the Pacific to improve their health.
As soon as Oliver walked into the room, the cameras were snapping like crazy, a round of applause erupted from a relatively large crowd who were almost completely star struck by this culinary and humanitarian hero. Almost immediately, he creates a sort of relaxed informal vibe, however that may have been caused by the fact that he rocked up in shorts, a flannie and sandals.
But this is arguably one of the reasons why he has many fans around the world. He is so down to earth and doesn’t talk down to you (as I quickly discovered), and when engaged in conversation with him, it feels as though you may have known each other for at least a few months instead of only minutes.
The press conference was being led by the editor of magazine Square Meal, Ben McCormack, who did a great job of drilling Oliver with pressing questions about his extensive culinary experiences.
Oliver opened with a bit of a “where are they now?” montage about some of the people in his show “Fifteen” and how the show changed their lives. Quite a few of them have gone on to work in restaurants as trainers of the younger chefs, a few had started up their own restaurants and one of them started a cooking program for teenage/young mothers. No matter where they went with their new skills however, they all said that Oliver’s show changed their lives.
Fifteen is a group of restaurants with the aim of giving unemployed or troubled young people a chance of a better future through the magic of food. The first Fifteen was opened in 2002 in London and since then another 2 have been opened, one in Amsterdam and the other in Cornwall. Oliver said in the press conference, that “the whole...experiment if you like, was about how do you inspire young people that come from tough backgrounds?”
Unfortunately one of the participants, Kevin Boyle, passed away 10 years after the show. He was 17 when he was on Oliver’s show. In the video, his mother said that Kevin had a dream to one day become a chef. But very unfortunately, Kevin suffered from a serious case of depression and was found dead after being missing for 101 days.
Although obviously Kevin’s mother was so much more than crushed by her son’s tragic passing, she was so grateful to Fifteen. She said that “we as a family feel that Fifteen... gave us ten more years with him."
Oliver also talked about Britain's food history. “In kitchens, even in London, it's not British, kitchens in Britain are not full of British chefs,” he said. Oliver believes that the big food revolution in Britain has only been in the last fifteen years. One of the things that Oliver seemed to feel quite strongly about was the significance of great street food. “They will be slow cooking some ribs and doing a kick ass barbeque sauce and they’ll just do something fantastic.”
As a father of 4, Oliver says that, “When you’re a parent, you become naturally conscious and protective about the environment your kids grow up in.” Oliver is a very strong believer in eating healthy and leading a healthy lifestyle, as demonstrated by his Food Revolution series and his multiple campaigns to make our world a healthier place.
“Life is a beautiful opportunity, you don’t want to be overcome with the miserable stuff,” said Oliver in a very inspiring and emotional fashion.
“My dream is that every 16 year old child will leave school knowing how to cook,” Oliver clarified that of course they want some of this learning curve to come from home, but he also noted that anyone who works in social services knows the range of the types of families. “You can have an average family who’s rotten, then you can have an average family who’s lovely.”
The importance of healthy living as a world wide issue was something that I raised with Oliver.
Oceania, according to the “Forbes list of the fattest countries”, Oceania occupies the top 7 spots.
When asked on ways to help improve this issue, Oliver commented, “Well you have got a mixture of problems there. You’ve got genetics, which is where all the local...people cannot process western... food...and diabetes and heart disease goes through the roof.” Oliver also said that, “There’s not one solution.” And of course he’s right, if there was, undoubtedly we wouldn’t be in this situation if there was. And as his Food Revolution theory attains, it will all be about time.
Oliver is a modern day culinary hero, a shining knight in a flannie and sandals fighting the firm grasp that unhealthy, “easy” food has over almost everything we do. He has changed the way we think about food from every aspect, from when it is pulled out of the ground, to when you push it into your mouth. Oliver has, and will, continue to be influential in the way we perform the simple task of eating.
Last Modified on 10/08/2012 01:46