One celebrity chef has put his money where his mouth is in his efforts to improve the eating habits of Americans. Known for his cooking shows and Food Revolution campaign, Jamie Oliver is determined to get everyone to eat healthier and one tool he is using in California is his “Big Rig Teaching Kitchen” classroom.
The Big Rig has been touring California communities and offering free nutritious cooking classes. This week, the big rig was in the gritty Watts area of Los Angeles. Yesterday’s cooking sessions there focused on flavorful risotto dishes. Today, there were a variety dishes on the menu during the day. The campaign remains in L.A. through April 26. Next month, the mobile kitchen classroom moves to San Diego and will offer cooking classes in that city from May 13 to 31.
Oliver grew up in England with a passion for food and cooking fostered helping out in his parent’s pub kitchen. After struggled academically due to dyslexia, he left school at 16 and was trained at Westminster Catering College. Later, a BBC documentary film crew discovered him. By age 21, Oliver was an overnight sensation with a best-selling cookbook and a television show that aired worldwide.
In 2003 he set up Fifteen, a non-profit restaurant that trains disenfranchised and underprivileged youths, offering them a second chance. The TV series about the effort, Jamie’s Kitchen, and the companion cookbook were highly successful.
In 2010, Oliver was given a prestigious TED Prize to foster his dream to create a strong, sustainable effort to educate about food, encouraging healthy cooking and empower people to fight obesity. This led to his first U.S. television series, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC. The Emmy-award winning series kicked off a revolution to support better food in schools. The revolution spread in 2011 to open food centers around the country.
Then, in 2013, in partnership with The California Endowment, the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation introduced its “Big Rig Teaching Kitchen” to teach about healthy foods and nutritious cooking skills in different communities.
The Jamie Oliver Food Revolution big rig is built out as a complete mobile cooking classroom. There are several kitchen islands inside complete with cook tops, counters and equipment stored below for participants to gather around and work. There is a bank of sinks along one wall; some are for washing hands and some for cleaning cooking tools and dishes.
When students first come up the big rig stairs, they are asked to put their purses or other stuff on hooks, grab an apron and wash their hands. The staff then goes through each step of the recipe as it is being tackled along with the various ingredients explaining healthy options, ingredient choices and techniques being used. There are tips for storing things, tips for better preparation and countless other tips dispensed during the one-hour sessions.
More information about Oliver’s health food efforts along with various recipes are available on the Web site. There are also more details about the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution, the mobile cooking classroom touring California, along with efforts elsewhere in the U.S.
By Dyanne Weiss