If I was ever granted the wish to cook with a celebrity chef, hands down, my choice would be Jamie Oliver. I attended a presentation at Roy Thompson Hall, it was an informal talk with Jamie Oliver where the audience provided the questions for discussion. It was casual and Oliver was as relaxed, as if he was hanging out with everyone in his “front parlour”. He was candid, humorous, insightful, sweet, edgy, warm, honest and down to earth – qualities. He talked about everyday things from running mad after four kids who he adores and who in turn love to be around their dad to what kind of underwear he prefers (the answer of course – commando!).
On a more serious note, he was asked if, in spite of all his efforts to inspire change with respect to government policies on the quality of food served in schools as well as stricter labeling and more humane food production, he feels a sense of frustration or lack of urgency towards that change. His answer was simple ” If any normal business was run where the president or CEO was replaced every 4 years – that company would definitely be bankrupt, therefore how can we expect anything of substance to be accomplished with the revolving governments of our countries. Bills get passed in support of pizza and potato chips considered a vegetable food group because ultimately the top seven processed food companies control the food industry.” Jamie also talked about how he relates to poorer households and he respects anyone who can stretch a food budget for example by buying a whole organic chicken, preparing it simply then making a few meals for the week out of the left-overs – that’s just smart and how it was done in previous generations. Have we lost our ability to see food as what nurtures our soul? It really is a common element that brings a family together at the end of the day to connect and recharge. Jamie was also asked what were some of the worst foods he’d eaten on his travels and he described, in humorous detail, how he once shared a delicacy of “lamb ass-hole” with a tribe of Navajo Indians and ‘cod semen” in Japan. That in itself tells a lot about Jamie’s character – a true gentleman to the core, not wanting to insult his hosts. I cannot say that I could be as adventurous.
The time flew and I enjoyed every moment of it – the pleasant perk of the evening was that along with the ticket purchase, you received a copy of the cookbook – “Jamie Oliver’s Food Escapes”. A collection of recipes from Spain , Italy, Sweden , Morocco, Greece and France. This past week-end, I decided to cook a few dishes from the book.
Here are the results: