Friday, September 15, 2006

Jamie's Kitchen

Watched this new show last night. The concept in brief: celebrity chef Jamie Oliver opens a restaurant in Melbourne ("Fifteen"), the aim of which is to train disadvantaged young people as chefs, giving them opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have. It's already been done in London, Cornwall and Amsterdam, and has now come "down under".

Now, Jamie Oliver cops a bit occasionally, and I can understand why people would see him as a bit of an annoying young upstart, lapping up the glory and media attention and celebrity and using words like "pucker". But I'm going to stick up for the guy.

Firstly, he's a darn good cook (at least on air and in print - I've not personally tasted his stuff). We've been cooking from his books for years now and watching his shows and he makes good cooking look easy and fun, and his recipies taste fantastic. But the thing we've been particularly impressed by is these causes he's taken on.

Watching the predecessor series a few years ago showed that the young James really put himself on the line financially to open the first "Fifteen" restaurant in London , and a lot of the kids he took on showed no gratitude at all. But he persevered and really gave these kids a go. One of the best parts of last night's show was when they were interviewing potential recruits for the Melbourne restaurant and had to turn away the guy who'd been modelling in Milan and the girl who had graduated from uni - they were too successful. No, the concept is to take kids who've genuinely hit the bottom and try to give them a lift up.

The other series that endeared us to Jamie was the School Dinners series where Jamie made an effort to change the appalling diet of crap they were serving up to kids in state schools and getting their canteens to instead serve tasty, nutricious, healthy food. He no doubt got a few noses out of joint from people who didn't want to change, but good on him. (Serving decent food to kids is a bit of a hobby horse of mine, but more of that in another post ...)

Some might cynically say he's doing it all for attention. I have no idea and it's not for me to question his motives. I reckon its great to see him using his celebrity and wealth and culinary skills to improve the lives of young people, both by giving some who are down and out a bit of a kick start, and by improving the disgusting diets that many kids are fed. Keep it up Jamie!


At 12:00 pm, Blogger David said...

sounds like a good series to watch.

why do they call it fifteen?
is it significant?
15 weeks to get the restaurant happening?
15 people to train up as chefs?
15 different dishes they learn to make?

or is it some postmodern type of thing that really means nothing... or whatever i want it to mean?


At 6:12 pm, Blogger Andy M said...

I don't think Jamie's really the postmodern type - he's a bit more down to earth and real than that!

I think it originally was the number of apprentices chosen for the London restaurant. The Melbourne version though has 20, but they're still going with the fifteen name and branding.

At 2:32 pm, Anonymous jon said...

iv always found jamie oliver to be the guy who makes alot out of something most people dont and thats food, the way he passionatly cooks on tv is fantastic he's kind of like the steve irwin of food, doing what he loves and helping others out while doing it. Do you know Andy if he's bought his wife and kids down to Oz with him?

At 4:13 pm, Anonymous Mike said...

So Andy, you haven't blogged for a week!

Did you watch last nights show?

I started to - but do you realise it's on at the same time as "How I met your Mum" - with that sort of quality it is competing with - it had little chance of holding my attention :-)

At 5:24 pm, Anonymous The Audio Brothers said...

I am a chef by trade and I know the pressures of the trade and it could be quite easy for jamie to not give a stuff and just get on with his own life,but as we saw with the school dinners series he really does care,he has changed british schools eating habits for good and lets face it if he did not do it do you really think the british government would give a toss.I think not.


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