THE NAKED CHEF BRINGS FRESH FOOD TO THE UNHEALTHIEST CITY IN AMERICA
Can Jamie Oliver, England’s naked chef, turn around the eating habits of 50,000 people in Huntington, West Virginia, the unhealthiest city in America? That’s the premise of a new reality TV show debuting on ABC Friday, March 26th at 9 p.m. I don’t watch much TV, and you probably don’t either, but having seen the previews, this is one show I’m going to follow.
Oliver gained fame on both sides of the Atlantic in the late 1990’s with a series of books and TV cooking shows with the words “naked chef” in the title. “Naked” actually refers to the supposed simplicity of his food, not his state of undress, alas. He’s proven to be much more than a pretty face and a talented cook. In 2001, he opened a restaurant in London which trains 15 at-risk young adults every year in the restaurant business. And in 2004 he began a campaign to upgrade the food served in Britain’s schools which resulted in the U.K. government appropriating an additional 280 million pounds for that purpose. He won the 2010 TED prize awarded each year to someone working on issues of global significance.
Which brings us to Huntington, West Virginia, where it seems most everyone survives on fast food and half the adults are obese. O.K., it’s a reality show. There will be drama. There will be tears. But the underlying premise is so real, I think this show may contribute something important to the conversation we’re having about how America eats. And although the dietary changes he proposes will not go as far as we may think they should, the changes he wants to bring to Huntington could lead to healthier lives for a lot of people. Do me a favor: watch the first episode, and let me know what you think.