Jamie Oliver was in pre-revolt mode yesterday morning, as he gave the press a tour of Jamie's Kitchen, the new Westwood headquarters of his Food Revolution, the former retail space that will be his kitchen classroom and production set. It was Day 2, according to Oliver, of the Los Angeles movement, or rather Day 2 of production for what will be the second season of Oliver's ABC Emmy-winning reality show. Season one of Food Revolution took place last year in Huntington, West Virginia. Oliver's plans to bring both the movement and his show to L.A. have been hampered by the LAUSD's repeated refusal to let him film in their schools, a decision that Oliver is fighting. So yes, the Revolution will certainly be televised, just maybe not in any LAUSD cafeteria.
The British chef, cookbook author and television personality invited Los Angeles parents to come to Jamie's Kitchen, at 1038 Westwood Boulevard, today at noon to so that he "can listen to their problems" and they can organize and "sign up" to help him petition the LAUSD to reverse their decision. "It's a bit of a rally," said Oliver.
Oliver was vague when asked what he'd do if the LAUSD doesn't let him into their cafeterias, admitting that Season 2 is currently a work-in-progress. "Really we're making a documentary," said the chef, who described the television component of his Revolution, which goal is to change the way the public, particularly children, eat, as "a strength but also a massive weakness." But the reality of his reality television is that "if the cameras don't see it, the public don't see it. That's my problem."
Oliver credited L.A.'s diversity as a main reason for choosing this city for the location of the second season. As for the enormity of the city, the chef said he'd probably do much of his work out of a truck, a mobile teaching kitchen, that will hit the road mid March. Oliver says that he wants to use this truck, and hopefully others like them, to reach the communities somewhat further afield than relatively affluent Westwood.
The chef will have a bit of help from Chipotle, which recently donated $1 million to his cause.
As for the current situation with the LAUSD, Oliver called for grassroots support, hence today's rally. "I need any school at the moment," said Oliver. "Normally getting into schools isn't a problem. We've never had a total shutdown. In my country, it would be illegal."
Jamie's Kitchen is the temporary home of the movement, a location set up mostly to be used as a set for the television show. A second permanent kitchen opens in a still-to-be-determined location across the street and is expected to be operational by summer. The Westwood kitchen, however, is currently staffed and Oliver said they can start teaching classes immediately if there is a demand. Jamie's Kitchen can accomodate 20-25 students at a time for the classes, which Oliver says will be free. The space has stations with stoves for cooking classes and demos, an herb garden, a simulated market stand, tables and chairs for meals, and plasma television screens which will hook up with programs in his other Revolution kitchens in West Virginia, England, and Australia.
The chef said more than once that the Revolution is not celebrity-driven, but a continuation of a movement towards more healthful eating that is already taking place. "I don't know why it's me. The opportunity has fallen in my lap," said Oliver. "I tried for seven years," he said of his life before The Naked Chef made him famous, "and I couldn't even get onto a crappy cable show."
Oliver and his family have temporarily relocated to Los Angeles.
Anyone interested in contacting Jamie's Kitchen for classes or other information can email email@example.com.
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