Jamie Oliver, your stories are awesome!

Last night my favourite chef/TV personality, Jamie Oliver, was in Toronto at Roy Thomson Hall and I went to see him with a few friends.  It was truly enjoyable.

Even though we were at Roy Thomson Hall, which is quite big, it did feel fairly intimate.  As Jamie said, he welcomed us into his “front room” to just hang out with him.  His Front Room was made up of two small sofas, a table between and two napkins waiting for the Steamwhistle beers that Jamie and the host were drinking.

After a lengthy introduction by the host, whose name escapes me (as I wasn’t there to see her), Jamie joined her on stage.  It’s an interesting situation, as the introduction even though important, is all information that I would imagine 95% of the people in the audience already knew.  I wonder for someone like Jamie Oliver, as he’s standing in the wings listening to all that, does he just want to cut to the chase and get out there to talk with his fans.

Jamie said that only when he’s in Canada does he do these intimate chats.  He was thanking us for how good all us Canadians have been to him over the past 15 years.  I know I have loved him since his Naked Chef days.  And now I love him for all the work he is doing in the schools in the UK and with Food Revolution in the US.  Wish we could convince him to come up here and do a short series.  If you are reading this, Jamie, and are interested in a series in Canada just drop me a line.  Would love to develop one with you.

Jamie shared some great stories with us.  Being an informal night, the audience got to submit questions for Jamie to answer.  Obviously, there were many and they could not get to all of them.  But he did touch on some great points, like how he is one of the only chefs out there that will test his recipes 6 times within his team and in the public before it gets into one of his cookbooks.  He rightly feels that he needs to ensure that when a recipe goes out into the world, it will work.  No one wants to spend $40 on ingredients to make a meal to impress someone and it’s a flop.  Jamie feels he would be letting people down if that happened.

The other answer that stuck with me was one about the increased use of food banks and how hard it is to afford good, fresh food.  His response was one that not everyone would expect, but it was true to what he and many of us believe.  He said that he has been in many lower income homes who claimed that it’s hard to afford fresh food.  But, as he pointed out, in those houses there are TVs bigger than his, everyone has a mobile phone and possibly wearing fancy running shoes on their feet.  It’s really about the choices that are made with the money, not that it’s unaffordable.  Jamie’s other point was that for the $15 dollars you can spend on the KFC bucket meal, he and you could create a healthy chicken meal for a family for less and there would be leftovers.

There were many other great stories told during our hour “visit” with Jamie.  Sadly it did have to end, but with one important last question.  “Boxers or Briefs?”  Jamie’s response initially was, “what about commando?”  But, in the end it was whatever made his “bits” look good to his wife.

What a great evening.  And to top it off, we all got a free copy of his new cook book, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Escapes.”  Great book with some great looking recipes.

Thanks, Jamie!