JAMIE Oliver has his critics but he’s adamant his life’s on the right course. Asked what he thinks sets him apart from many celebrity chefs, he says: ‘‘ I hope people believe in my integrity. I put my heart and soul into it.’’
Given his recent determination to promote health causes that are close to his heart — at the same time risking a popularity based on his nice-guy persona— it’s difficult to doubt Oliver’s sincerity.
In his documentary Eat to Save Your Life, he used a corpse to show us how obesity will bring you to an early grave. He followed with another controversial special, Jamie’s Fowl Dinners, where he electrocuted a chicken to highlight the cruelty of battery farming.
That came after Ministry of Food, a series set in Rotherham, Yorkshire, that left Oliver looking pale and battle-weary. Rotherham residents accused Oliver of portraying them as ‘‘ dumbos’’ and ‘‘ numpties’’.
Oliver hit back, saying he’d been targeted by a minority of locals who saw his show as a ‘‘ vanity project’’ rather than a genuine campaign to help those who were eating themselves to death. Some will say Jamie’s Great Britain gives us a welcome spell from his political campaigning.
This week’s episode sees him travel to Yorkshire, where he tucks into, among other things, ale, puddings and chicken soup.
‘‘ In my job I will always find beautiful things in any country in the world but one thing I’m guilty of is not doing it in my own country,’’ Oliver says of his reason for doing Jamie’s Great Britain.
Don’t think for a second that Oliver’s political campaigning has been laid to rest. He recently urged the Secretary-general of the United Nations to help end the world obesity crisis. Oliver wrote to Ban-ki Moon in a bid to make the UN apply pressure to governments to take action.
Now he wants the world to take food education seriously before it is too late. He warns that soon we will be left with ‘‘ a global diet of fast and processed food and drink’’. Jamie’s Great Britain, Channel 10, Friday, 7.30pm