You may have noticed a giant Jamie Oliver-shaped hole in our recent cover story, “Bad Lunch,” about school food in Los Angeles. Oliver's antics originally inspired the piece. But we chose instead to focus on the problems inherent within LAUSD's meal program, and on the non-celebrity chef people who are affected by and working to fix the system.
In the process of reporting the story, I actually did sit down several times to interview Oliver. He was charming and passionate and every bit the boyishly handsome devil you've come to know and love/hate.
At one point, we met at Soho House in West Hollywood, a private club on the penthouse level of a building on Sunset Blvd. Oliver had made a corner of this Eden-like space his unofficial offices while he was in LA. From there, he could see the entire city.
Here are a dozen of the best Jamie Oliver quotes you won't read in our cover story. Turn the page.
12. “I reckon I could get in to the head of food service on any Russian cities. I reckon I could get into North Korea inside a week.”
–Jamie Oliver on being shut out of LA's public school cafeterias.
11. “I come here to stir the pot, to tell the truth. If I have to work hard in an interview to prove that I mean well, then good. I can't bullshit or lie.”
–Jamie Oliver on being Jamie Oliver.
10. “They don't think their voice can contribute to any positive change. I want this show to inspire them to whop the ass out of change.”
–Jamie Oliver on the effect he hopes his work will have on the citizens of Los Angeles.
9. “Homicide is 0.8% of deaths. Diet-related disease is over 60%. But no one fucking talks about it.”
–Jamie Oliver on why the obesity epidemic isn't going to stop.
8. “I don't care about the show. I'm very philosophical about it. When it's right, it's right. When it's wrong, it's right. This is not a cooking show. Let's be honest, even when I'm doing that, I don't like planning stuff anyway. I'll buy stuff for the day and cook whatever feels right. And people don't like that. That's why I work with people who are more renegade.”
–Jamie Oliver on whether or not he was stressed out at not being allowed to film in LAUSD public schools.
7. “I didn't know what I was doing from six hours to the next.”
–Jamie Oliver describing his usual process.
6. “As far as I'm concerned, we just made an incredible documentary with big stunts. Why do we do big stunts? Because a lot of the information we work with is bloody boring. And I don't expect any public, let alone the Americans, to be remotely interested.”
–Jamie Oliver on documentary stunt-making.
5. “Nice to be smug if your shit's hot and 100%. But really? Really? For an organization that was constantly reminding us about their concerns with reality-TV-slash-conflict-and-drama, they sort of created that all by themselves.”
–Jamie Oliver on LAUSD saying their food is nutritious…and still not letting him film in schools.
4. “I hate reality TV. It disgusts me. It's not my cup of tea. When I kept getting accused of it, it bloody offends me.”
–Jamie Oliver's opinion about being called a reality TV star.
3. “I always go for the elementary kids because it makes your heart break more.”
–Jamie Oliver on how he'd do Los Angeles differently if given a second chance. He spent most of his time here with high schoolers, and would have liked to spend more time with elementary school kids.
2. “I've shot the best work of my life in this city.”
–Jamie Oliver on coming to Los Angeles.
1. “I don't want to see it off camera…If it ain't on camera, it doesn't exist.”
–Jamie Oliver on LAUSD's refusal to let him film his reality TV show in any of their schools. They allowed him to see the schools and the meals, but denied permission to film.