Jamie Oliver has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the growing obesity epidemic that – if left unchecked – threatens not only our children, but every subsequent generation. He’s had great success as a chef, entrepreneur and social activist, but it is his passion for great food and cooking from scratch that has inspired people globally, and enabled him to highlight the importance of cooking skills throughout the world.
Jamie has always had a passion for food and cooking. He grew up earning pocket money by working in his parent’s pub kitchen. Having struggled academically (Jamie has dyslexia), he left school at 16 and completed his training at Westminster Catering College. It was later, while working at the acclaimed River Cafe, when he was discovered by a BBC documentary film crew and “The Naked Chef” was born. At just 21, Jamie became an overnight sensation with a best-selling cookbook, and television series that has been shown all over the world.
As his success grew, Jamie needed a new challenge; he wanted to ‘give something back’ to the catering industry. In 2003 he set up Fifteen, a not-for-profit training restaurant that aims to offer underprivileged and disenfranchised youths a second chance. The accompanying TV series, “Jamie’s Kitchen,” became one of the biggest hit shows of the year and the companion cookbook was a runaway success. That same year, Jamie was awarded an MBE by the Queen for his contribution to the food and hospitality industry. The Fifteen Apprentice Program (run by The Jamie Oliver Foundation at Fifteen London) recently recruited its eighth intake of trainees.
Realizing that he could create real, positive change through food and cooking, Jamie turned his attention to the food given to British children at school. He was horrified at the processed junk food on offer and knew things needed to change. Understanding the power of television, Jamie based himself in a school cafeteria and proved that with hard work and commitment, change was possible. Jamie’s School Dinners (Jamie’s School Lunch Project in the U.S) became an international success and the support from the British public led the British government to commit more than one billion dollars to the school food system as well as placing a ban on processed junk food in all UK schools.
Determined to make a difference in people’s homes as well, Jamie headed to the north of England in 2008 to launch his Ministry of Food project. He established cooking centers designed to teach people of all ages the basics of cooking, showing them that not only can it be fun, rewarding and cost effective, but that it can have an incredible impact on health and lifestyle. In 2010 he also developed a new qualification, Jamie’s Home Cooking Skills, which is offered in high schools around the UK and teaches children practical cooking skills and fundamental food knowledge.
In 2010 Jamie was awarded the prestigious TED Prize to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.
Armed with all his experience and a real passion to get people cooking from scratch, Jamie headed to Huntington, West Virginia to transform the eating habits and produce and star in his first U.S. primetime network series, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.” The series kicked off an American Food Revolution with more than 630,000 people signing a pledge to support better food in schools. It was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Series.
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution campaign is now spreading across the USA. In 2011, the team will be looking to open food centers around the country and working hard to improve school food. Having proven himself as a campaigner in the UK, Jamie is fired up about leading the fight against obesity in the USA.