Jamie Oliver, who revolutionized how many people cook with his groundbreaking “Naked Chef” television series and cookbooks has been named the recipient of the 2010 TED Prize. With the prize Oliver wins $100,000 to grant a wish to “change the world.”
Changing the world is nothing new to Oliver, who as a very young chef took his training in Great Britain and Italy and showed that food can be stripped down to its very essence, “Naked” and enjoyed by all. His father owned a pub in Essex where his love of cooking began to be fostered. He went onto Westminster Catering College and then trained in France. And after time at prestigious restaurants it was while a documentary was being filmed at the River Café where Oliver’s irreverent style and what he calls “cheeky” nature found the cameras. Soon after “The Naked Chef” was born and Oliver became one of the newest and certainly youngest of the celebrity chefs.
But the British kid who plays drums in a rock band didn’t just cook food. He was passionate about it, where it came from, and especially how food was affecting the youth of Britain. With his celebrity Oliver launched a campaign to improve the food in UK school lunch programs. He filmed a multi-part documentary and worked with the British government to change policies about what was being served to the UK children in his battle to fight obesity and ensure they were eating healthier foods.
Oliver didn’t stop with school lunches, he founded the Fifteen Foundation a program that exists to help disadvantaged youth, now across Europe, assisting them to build careers in the restaurant industry. The concept is based on an apprenticeship model with a working restaurant, foundation and training program all together. The Fifteen program has graduated 159 students at a cost of $49,500 each through the start of 2009.
He also took his love for good food to the British television airwaves in a documentary to dramatically demonstrate how chickens live and die to reach consumers’ plates in the UK. Olivers’ “Fowl Dinners” on Channel Four has directly lead to a dramatic increase in the demand for free range chickens at grocers like Tesco and Sainsbury.
Following the chicken across the road, Oliver also launched a fight to save British pork in his series “Jamie Saves our Bacon.” Which discusses UK pig breeding and the heritage of local pork. His other special focuses on getting people back into the kitchen. Oliver’s “Ministry of Food” shows how simple healthy cooking is just as easy as nuking frozen dinners and is an important part of a good diet; how making your own food is most often less expensive than buying pre-made, pre-assembled and pre-packaged foods. Oliver has also fought for clear and accurate food labeling in supermarkets and grocery stores in Great Britain.
Jamie has launched his own wines and foods as well as dinnerware and other products like most celebrity chefs. Unfortunately for us Yanks, the food and wines do not seem to be available in the United States yet and shipping on most of the other products is obviously spendy, but it can be well worth it.
Of course, the cookbooks are still his bread and butter,excuse the pun. In fact the Fifteen Foundation is funded entirely by an endowment from sales of one of his cookbooks. Oliver continues to come out with unique approaches to food to surprise and entertain. His latest, Jamie’s America, includes his take on American cuisine after filming recent specials and a BBC Series in the United States. He is also about to launch his fight against childhood obesity and toward healthy foods for children in schools across the pond to the American market in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution USA to be aired as a television special on ABC. You can sign Jamie’s petition for better food in US school lunches here.
As the recipient of the TED prize, Oliver is certainly one person who use that $100,000 prize and take “One wish to change the world”, he has already done so in so many ways.