About Time: You Supported The Jamie Oliver Food FoundationBy Kate Samuelson
Jamie Oliver does it all.
As chef, philanthropist, restaurateur, political activist, media personality, TV star, author, DJ (yes, actually), husband and father of Buddy Bear, Poppy Honey, Petal Blossom and Daisy Boo, Jamie Oliver really does have a finger in every pie. Yet it is very telling that during the fifteen years The Naked Chef has been a household name, his popularity has remained uncontested and we have not tired of the £250 million Jamie Oliver cult personality.
Jamie Oliver: The Good Guy
I don’t doubt this is because Jamie Oliver is the definition of a Good Person. From setting up the then-radical restaurant Fifteen, where many of the kitchen apprentices come from disadvantaged backgrounds and have histories of addiction and criminal records, to his involvement in the Channel 4 show Jamie’s Dream School, where academically-struggling teens were encouraged to give education a second chance, everyone’s favourite Essex boy has raised a remarkable amount for charity while playing an enormous part in transforming the United Kingdom’s tempestuous relationship with food.
Jamie Oliver: The Foundation
After attending The Big Feastival last Sunday, I felt inspired to learn more about the charity it was raising money for: The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation. The Foundation has three flagship programmes. The first is the Jamie’s Kitchen Garden Project, which I’m sure was inspired by turkey-twizzler-gate on Channel 4’s Jamie’s School Dinners. With a tagline of “Grow it. Cook it. Love it”, the project encourage teachers to integrate cooking and growing food into primary and secondary school timetables. The aim is to enable a child’s understanding of where their food comes from, how to cook it and how it affects their bodies.
Jamie Oliver: The Reach
Jamie’s Fifteen Apprentice Programme takes a different approach, preparing disengaged and disadvantaged 18-24 year-olds for a long-term career in the food industry. The 51-week programme aims to provide these young people with support and training that will not only lead them into a career but transform their personal lives too.
Finally, Jamie’s Ministry of Food is very Naked Chefy – it’s all about inspiring people disinterested in cooking to get in the kitchen and start making meals from scratch. By teaching these people basic skills through hands-on cookery classes and providing them with simple, healthy and affordable recipes, this programme is fighting against society’s increasingly prevalent dependence on fast food.
The Big Feastival supported all three programmes. Held in Alex James’ fields in Kingham in the Cotswolds, it was three-day foodie fiesta with a little music and entertainment thrown in. Although there were fairground rides and some pretty big names (Kelis, Fatboy Slim and Jamie Cullum to name a few), the food was definitely the Main Event.
Edible highlights included chef Mark Hix’s pollock fish-balls, slow roasted lamb on fresh naan bread care of Soho Joho, and pork and smoked chilli sausage rolls from Somerset-based Little Jack Horner’s. Sharp’s Brewery also ran a delicious and substantially alcoholic tasting session. It’s fair to say that I didn’t fancy going on the Waltzer after it and the rest of the day was A Bit of a Blur (groan).
A non-edible memorable moment was definitely bopping along with mummies and daddies to Walking on Sunshine during Alex James’ DJ-set, which took place inside the “Alex James Cheese Hub”. I’m not sure whether anything in the world has ever been more middle-class than The Big Feastival but it was definitely a fun day out, with parents and children alike throwing themselves into the various cookery workshops, taster sessions and widely dispersed bundles of hay.
To those who weren’t able to make it to the Feastival you can still support Jamie’s Food Foundation by visiting one of his Fifteen restaurants, where profits go straight back into the apprentice programme, or by volunteering at one of the four Ministry of Food centres.