Clavering, Essex, England
27 May 1975
Jamie Oliver grew up in and around his parents’ pub, The Cricketers. He spent a lot of time being fascinated by what went on in the kitchen and started helping out with the food preparation. Falling in love with the atmosphere of the kitchen, he left school at sixteen to go to culinary school in London and then France. He returned to London to take a job at a prestigious restaurant. Following that, while working at another restaurant, he was spotted by TV talent agents on a documentary. They offered him a TV show and called it “The Naked Chef”. The naked part referred to the simplicity of the food, not the clothing status of the host.
Oliver’s TV personality of a honest, working class, guy translated to large success. He became the face of Sainsbury’s – a supermarket chain. In 2002, Oliver risked his savings to form the Fifteen Foundation aimed at helping fifteen at-risk young people train for a career in the culinary arts. It was a success and spread around the world. He followed that up by campaigning successfully for the revamping of school lunches in Britain. He railed against what he saw as a systemic problem that saw children eating unhealthy meals every day at school. His campaign and TV show changed government policy.
Through his experience with the school lunch program, Oliver realized that children were not getting much better at home as modern parents simply weren’t taught to cook. Again, he took on the problem and offered opportunities for parents to learn how to cook in the community. All of these campaigns culminated in Oliver winning the TED Prize in 2010 where he promised to clean up eating habits in the United States.