ne man has made it his mission to do just that. Over the course of the last decade, world-renowned celebrity chef, food campaigner, father, husband and humanitarian, Jamie Oliver, is way ahead of the game. He is leaving his culinary footprint in the food industry as a passionate chef, and on the world stage as he poignantly speaks out about the obesity epidemic throughout the world. He has inspired change in school cafeterias and demonstrated what it means to care about bringing the family back to the table, preparing delicious food from scratch and enjoying a meal together. Teaching children about food puts them at a great advantage and gives them a real chance at enjoying a long and healthy life.
After enjoying years of success, in 2015, all of his efforts aligned. Jamie Oliver has taken on one of his biggest projects to date; a new book demonstrating how foods can help heal, make you healthy and enjoy life more. ‘Everyday Super Food’ was officially launched on a recent press tour in Toronto, with a spin-off television series, ‘Jamie’s Super Food.’ As if that was not enough for Oliver, he also came to Canada to see the final reveal of a collaborate effort with the King Street Food Company (owners of Buca). This dynamic team will be opening Canada’s first North American franchise of ‘Jamie’s Italian,’ which is scheduled to open in Yorkdale this month. Since the opening of the first ‘Jamie’s Italian’ restaurant in 2008 in Oxford, England, the chain has become beloved worldwide with over 60 restaurants everywhere from Australia to Moscow to Brazil and beyond.
Oliver is no stranger to success. Since his first televised show, ‘The Naked Chef’ aired on the Food Network 17 years ago, the then-23-year-old animated Jamie Oliver has garnered a captive audience who respect his love of food and fresh farm grown ingredients. Married with four children, Oliver makes sure he involves them in his kitchen. He has dedicated much of his life to educating and informing people in the UK andAmerica about the obesity epidemic that affects adults and children alike. Oliver has been on a mission to create awareness of the dangers of poor food choices and explain why it’s important to educate children early. Creating easy-to-make meals has always been his style as a chef. His wish is to make the world a healthier place, one recipe at a time.
It’s easy to be inspired by Jamie Oliver. His effervescent, down to earth personality, not to mention the baby face we have all come to love, has attracted over 10 million followers combined across social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Through every communication medium, Oliver speaks to his audience as if they’re in the same room. He’s come a long way since his days in his parents’ pub/restaurant, ‘The Cricketers,’ in the village of Clavering, Essex England where he lived. It was there that Jamie Oliver began his love affair with food. One of his fondest memories is still the aroma coming from the kitchen at the restaurant.
Be the change you
wish to see in the world.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
From the age of eight, he started cooking and helping the chefs there, learning to appreciate quality ingredients along the way. After leaving school at the age of 16, he decided he wanted to cook for a living and studied catering at Westminster Kingsway College in London. During his apprenticeship, Jamie worked with some of the best chefs in London. He was a pastry chef for Antonio Carluccio at the Neal Street Restaurant, where he grew close to his mentor, Gennaro Contaldo. He then moved to Ruth Rogers’ River Café. It was while working at the River Café that he was spotted by a TV producer, and as they say in sports, that was his TSN turning point. He would go on to front the first of many television series beginning with ‘The Naked Chef.’
His passion for creating fresh, honest, delicious food caught on quickly. People gravitated to his personality; he was young, fresh, animated and always excited when he was creating dishes. Since then, the messy-haired “Naked Chef” of the late 90s went on to build a worldwide media conglomerate of TV shows, books, cookware and magazines and founded the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation. Everything he touches seems to be based on simple, unpretentious recipes that can be taught to adults and children alike. His goal was to get people back in the kitchen cooking with fresh ingredients, and to stop people from turning to processed foods. He saw what those foods did to people and to their life expectancy.
During a prize-winning TED talk in 2010, Oliver began by telling his audience that over the course of his 20-minute talk, four Americans will die due to their food choices. “The adults of the last four generations have blessed [their] children with the destiny of a shorter lifespan than their own parents. Your child will live a life 10 years younger than [yours].” Oliver says the media goes on and on about homicide, but it’s not even close to the top cause of death in the U.S. “Diet-related disease is the biggest killer in the U.S. right now,” says Oliver, “and the rest of the world is going the same way.” We spend $150 billion a year treating diet-related diseases, and that number is expected to double in the next decade. “I’m not a doctor, I’m a chef,” Oliver states, explaining he aimed to save lives in his own way. “I don’t have expensive equipment or medicine. I use information and education. I profoundly believe that the power of food has a primal place in our homes that binds us to the best bits of life.”
In May of 2015, Jamie Oliver celebrated his 40th birthday. On a recent media tour to Toronto, Oliver shared that this milestone birthday had caused him to rethink his own mortality, his longevity and health. In a one-on-one staged interview with Lisa Fromer of Global TV’s ‘The Morning Show,’ Jamie shared his thoughts with a small audience of fans and media journalists, including his thoughts on turning 40. “I’ve had a good ride, but you can start seeing the end a little bit. I wanted to be good. I think more than anything, the pressures of modern day life, trying to be optimal, feel good, be energetic, wake up in the morning and want to get up, not be miserable, but still be a good boss, a good daddy and husband, all of that stuff, I want that. I was all over the food until I started to study nutrition; it translated to me for food to be joyful. Up until recently, I never really truly understood that food could be medicine. I truly believe that now.”
Both his new book ‘Everyday Super Food’ and his new television series, ‘Jamie’s Super Food’ are a culmination of his travels to some of the world’s healthiest places to uncover the secrets of how people live longer and healthier lives. In the six-part television series, Oliver travels to Costa Rica in Central America, Okinawa in Japan and the Greek Islands. He takes the time to understand their ingredients, their joie de vivre and turns their hidden secrets into inspiring, delicious recipes for everyone to enjoy. Oliver explains, “It’s not about goji berries and green drinks, it’s about cooking smart with simple ingredients. They’re all using humble ingredients to make some of the simplest and tastiest dishes I’ve ever eaten. When you go out and see parts of the world where people are living into their nineties and hundreds and they’re being productive and laughing a lot and dancing, I want that. I want my audience to have that. It was an amazing study, causing me to ask how can we create that? We might not be able to in Britain or Canada, but everyone can change their own home. When you really digest the book, look at the back of the book as well and make it your own. And it doesn’t mean you can’t eat your cake. Eat your cake. It’s delicious – I enjoy it. What’s life without cake, right?”
Oliver admits this book was hard work and it took over a year to complete. He took his own photos of all the recipes. “I love photography, but I had to do this one myself because of the time I took to write it. And I really loved it. ‘Every day Super Food’ is beautifully designed, with colourful images and easy-to-understand recipes. There is a lot of variety from cuisines around the world. The book is separated by meals; breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers healthy choices. The photography, by the way, is really visually pleasing. You’ll want to try one, if not many of the recipes. I know I will be.”
It’s not about goji berries and green drinks,
it’s about cooking smart with simple ingredients.”
– Jamie Oliver
One of Jamie Oliver’s sweetest and proudest moments was receiving the MBE [Member of the Order of the British Empire] in 2003 from Her Majesty the Queen. “It was really up there along with getting the British government in 2005 to find £280-million [about $570-million CAD] to invest in school food when I’d been told that there was no spare cash available. It’s amazing what a bit of public and media pressure can do if it’s for positive reasons.”
In addition to a new book and television series, this Italian food-loving Brit has finally made his mark on North America with his first ‘Jamie’s Italian’ restaurant in Toronto. As announced by Oliver himself during his October media tour, the restaurant will offer simple, freshly made Italian-inspired dishes with an Oliver twist (no pun intended). “Opening our first restaurant in Toronto will be a really special moment for me,” said Oliver. “Canada is a place that’s always been close to my heart and whenever I visit, I always get an incredible welcome. I can’t wait until the doors open in York- dale this December.”
“Bringing ‘Jamie’s Italian’ to Canada is a perfect collaboration for us,” says Gus Giazitidis, Managing Director and Partner for the King Street Food Company and Jamie’s Italian Canada. “We share the same philosophy as Jamie in his unwavering commitment to sourcing the fresh ingredients and championing local growers and suppliers. It’s a joy to be partners on this and we are confident that Torontonians and Canadians will become instant fans.” So what will be on the menu? Items will include a selection of Jamie’s tried, tasted and beloved dishes such as prawn linguine, turkey Milanese, prosciutto and pear salad, antipasti planks of cured meats and vegetables, made-to-order pizzas and tasty nibbles like olives on ice and polenta chips. Jamie’s Italian’s award-winning kids’ menu will also be available. “There will also be gluten-free vegetarian and vegan options,” Giazitidis states proudly.
Jamie Oliver truly has become a house-hold name here in Canada and abroad. What’s next for this young 40-year-old? Keep your ears close to the ground. Who knows, maybe this is not the last time Canada will see Oliver. You can watch him on the Food Network, visit his website, watch his YouTube channel ‘Food Tube’, or pick up his new book. His culinary footprint now includes Canada among the many other countries he has visited and inspired. He walks his talk, believing passionately in all of his causes, namely to make the world better and healthier than when he first entered it.
At the 2010 TED Talk Oliver, 34 years old at the time, was asked to make a wish as part of his talk. With a hint of emotion, Oliver said, “My wish is for you to help a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, to inspire families to cook again, and to empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”
Jamie Oliver is on his way to making his dream a reality.
I don’t have expensive equipment or medicine. I use information and education. I profoundly believe that the power of food has a primal place in our homes that binds us to the best bits of life.”
– Jamie Oliver
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