The Galleon - Portsmouth's Student Newspaper


One man against the world: Jamie Oliver

Is the celebrity chef a hero or a hypocrite?

You can’t go anywhere or do anything without Jamie Oliver turning up. Since he found fame on The Naked Chef years ago, he’s everywhere. You turn on the television, there he is. You pop into Sainsbury’s, there he is. You log onto Twitter, there he is. He interviews people on Friday Night Feast. Him, and that other guy. Not to mention, he is one of the richest TV chefs in the world, with a net worth of £240 million. Yet, despite all this fame and fortune, it seems he is far from loved.

Maybe it has something to do with his one-man-against-the-world stance on tackling child obesity and sugar intake in the UK (and, very unsuccessfully, in the USA). Although obesity is an issue that should be tackled, and although Mr. Oliver’s heart seems to be in the right place, every attempt he takes to cut down on sugar is met with a Twitter rage. Jamie Oliver is less the knight in shining armour and more the little side character that no-one really cares about.

One example of this is his recent attempt to to ban ‘two for one’ pizzas, which was a great deal for people who don’t have a lot of money, and who’d like a takeaway once in a while. The poor. I’m talking about the poor. This came shortly after his attack on Coco Pops, which resulted in a change of recipe. What is most odd about this is the specificity of his attack. Rather than focus on foods as a whole, or takeaways in general, Oliver finds very specific things to wage war on, which is less than endearing, and actually, a little bit patronising.

If he’s so insistent on low-income families eating better, he should focus on designing affordable recipes for those who have to prioritise what they should pay first: the heating bill or the rent. Or, better yet, he could target the prices of healthy foods and fresh vegetables. It’s easy to see the appeal of a 99p McDonalds burger over a £2 bag of potatoes.

That being said, he does have a show where he teaches busy parents and families how to whip up home-made meals in just fifteen minutes. But make no mistake; his 15 Minute Meals are not for working-class, busy families. They’re for people like Madeline, who lives in a big old house with her two dogs, Spiffy and Houghton, who tends to her herb garden and vegetable patch on the weekend.

“The show should be called 15 Minute Meals and then another 20 minutes for the washing up, and 10 minutes for the preparation, and then an hour or two for all that extra shopping.”

The amount of spices, herbs and ingredients that go into his recipes are completely unrealistic when you take into account that working families probably don’t have time or the money to buy such an array of fresh herbs and vegetables in advance. Speaking of time, the show should be called 15 Minute Meals and then another 20 minutes for the washing up, and 10 minutes for the preparation, and then an hour or two for all that extra shopping. And I won’t even start on the over-reliance of the food processor.

Don’t get me wrong— Jamie’s fifteen minute meals are great and look delicious – for people who are willing to sell an arm every time they want to eat.

Hypocrite is a word that often floats around the Twitterverse when people realise he sells a burger with just as much fat and sugar as your average Burger King or McDonalds, or your — wait for it — ‘two for one’ pizza. Is this because people don’t tend to opt for a salad or peas when they go out to eat? Or maybe it’s because the inclusion of sugar and fat is fine when you’re spending the money at his restaurants. We’ll never know.

One thing I do know is that Jamie’s intentions, however noble he thinks they are, seem like a shout into the void. With all his fame, fortune, and platform, and his misguided attempt to do something ‘good’, it makes me wonder why he doesn’t do something better.

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