Jamie Oliver is at it again. After the successful run, last year, of his “Food Revolution” first season in Huntington, Virginia, the British celebrity chef has taken his Reality TV show to Los Angeles. His goal: to single-handedly introduce nutritious, delicious fare, on budget, in the LAUSD school lunch program, and to spur the transformation of the fast-food industry.
Those of us who followed his adventures online well before the first episode aired last April, already knew that Jamie’s Los Angeles mission has been an exceptionally challenging one. The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in America with 680,000 students, shines in the role of the villain. Its reputation as a hard nut to crack has been long established, and it seemingly has many reasons to hide its food operations from TV cameras (to judge by the appalling “food” that students bring to Jamie in the first episode). Ironically, its stubborn refusal to collaborate on the grounds that Reality TV stirs despicable drama, and its intimidation attempts against Jamie Oliver and whoever is willing to collaborate with him, actually bring a perfect dramatic intrigue to the show.
Against the Dark Side of the Force, our British Jedi who calls everyone “Brother” and “Sis” spares no effort to garner support among parents, and to bring about a Better World of Food to the homeland of fast-food joints. His passion, his creativity and his energy are truly inspiring. The man is on a mission, and a crucial one at that: watch 17-year old Sofia cry as she talks about her diabetes-afflicted family, including her 13-year old sister; gape in disbelief during Jamie’s multiple choice test, as you hear one of Sofia’s Mexican school-mates venture the guess that apples are the main ingredient is guacamole, while other students surmise that butter comes from corn and honey from honey bears. And don’t be embarrassed if your eyes moisten somewhat as Jamie loses his panache in a moment of despair, struggles to keep his composure, and slumps into a chair to confess to a group of parents how tough and taxing a battle he’s been waging.