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You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too, Jamie!

by Robin Bailey 

 

I know this is probably a little lazy of me to write about someone so ridicule worthy as Jamie Oliver, the man, lets face it is an easy target.  Well so I thought. Following his ‘Jamie’s Kitchen’ programme I was expecting the nation, like me, to have seen through his pseudo altruism and haul him over the proverbial (barbeque) coals for cashing in on a so called ‘worthy’ cause. Obviously not. He was been hailed as a saint, the savior of the ASBO generation; a role model for all those under privileged kids and all round good egg (pun intended).  Now he has saved all our children from becoming obese or dying before they are 18 from turkeytwizzleanitis, it has put him up there with the likes of Mandela, Mother Theresa and Geldof  (well before he did Live8). Much as people are sick of seeing his contorted visage almost everywhere and hearing his passé mockney ’colloquiums’, he is still seen as a very noble and generous hearted soul. So why is it that I see him (obviously outside of being an annoying idiot) as a very disingenuous, narcissistic, and fraudulent individual? 

 

I never bought the whole Jamie's Kitchen thing from the start. It smacked blatantly of giving the flooded arena of TV cookery programmes a new twist. What would be better than pleasing the middle classes than seeing some ‘fine food’ mixed with a healthy dose of social commentary and the amelioration of societies woes, all in one?  Maybe I am wrong and Jamie may have been having sleepless nights worrying and perseverating over the plight of the ‘underprivileged kids’.  He may have over breakfast, stated to his dog loyal wife Jules that the world outside was just not ‘pukka’ and maybe he should give the starving, hopeless and homeless kids of Britain a chance.  If this is the case then why make a television programme about it? Surely you can carry out such charitable work without having the world know how philanthropic you are?  There is something very crass about how much one does for charity. In one episode I remember him guilt tripping his apprentices by stating that if the project went tits up his house would be on the line. This seems very laughable now when recent figures estimate him to be worth £56 million, second only to Gordon Ramsey in chef earnings. I also wonder did he actually get paid for this series and did the spin off book all go to help the underprivileged kids?  Doubt it mate.

What is also extremely patronising about this venture is this annoying concept of underprivileged kids. From what I remember a great deal of these kids were far from ’underprivileged’, some from quite well to do backgrounds, something they had in common with Jamie. I do not remember him visiting Toxteth, the Gorbals, or Moss Side to recruit his apprentices for the show - that would have been too real. What has he actually offered these kids? The chance to become a chef? Pre-Jamie was it that hard to become a chef? No in fact it’s pretty easy, you either go to catering college and then work your way through the ranks or you miss out catering college and work your way through the ranks. You do not need a TV chef, TV programme and a charitable foundation to know that or aid the process. People who are chefs become so either, for example, because they have a love of food and cooking or they do not know what they want from life, or of course both.

All the while this smoke screen altruism continues to raise Jamie's profile, which continues to sell books, which continues to add to his £56 million ....... ad infinitum. We can all rest easy knowing that the troubled and unfortunate youth can become privileged by being one of Jamie’s chefs.

 

Next humanitarian cause for our Jamie was the quest to change the school dinners our poor children are being poisoned with. Ok it is a worthy cause that I am in agreement with, but let’s remember this was going on well before Jamie was involved.  At the same time his fame has raised the profile and gone some way to make changes to what kids eat at school, in theory anyway.  However behind this quest there lies certain contradictions in what Jamie actually stands for and promotes. On the one hand he is constantly haranguing the nation and literally force-feeding children to eat healthy food, yet on the other hand is the face of a well known supermarket. The same supermarket that stocks ready meals, turkey dinosaurs, foods clogged with hydrogenated fats, unhealthy sweets, crisps, food sourced by unethical means and flown thousands of miles, farmed fish, ill treatment of British farmers, I could go on and on. While Jamie and the rest of his extended family appear in friendly commercials extolling the wonders of Sainsbury’s he is criticising the rest of us who shop at this supermarket for buying processed junk for packed lunches. Does Jamie recommend that the school dinners use ingredients sourced from this supermarket? A question yet to be answered, probably because it has never been asked. You can’t have it both ways Jamie, you can’t guilt trip the nations parents into not feeding their children, whilst at the same time advertising supermarkets as the place to feed our kids. Ok the counter argument may be that Jamie's own range is more healthy, ethical and tastier than the ‘normal’ products in this supermarket, but at the end of the day by putting your face to a business, you are an advert for everything it sells, chicken nuggets and all.  To add to this he has even gone out of his way to blame working mothers as the cause for unhealthy meals and the nation’s health problems. Since when has a remedial class educated TV chef becomes a sociological analyst for health related demographic trends? It may be ok for Jules to stay at home, but then again she has no financial worries, does she?

To me there is a common theme that runs through this mans motivation: fame and money. He gets paid a fortune for his association with Sainsbury’s and public appearances; his programmes are sold worldwide, as are his books/videos/kitchenware etc. Ok profits from his restaurant go to funding the charity and keeping it alive, however as most chefs know there is not much of a profit to be made in restaurants, especially in comparison to his other sources of income. It is however his contradictory ethical stand point that gets to me, his moral high ground on what we eat, his blatant profiteering from the most unethical of all food outlets i.e. supermarkets and how he has conned a nation into believing his selfless intentions are for the good of mankind only. The fact that he has put himself up as a champion of these noble causes is nothing more than a good marketing ploy to increase his profile and sales, which I am sure have been thought up by more astute people than him.

 

At the time of going to press poor old Boris ’Bonkers’ Johnson  had the audacity to criticise Jamie’s campaign as being  ‘too much’ and ‘over the top’., consequently there was a  national backlash, newspapers were up in arms,  mothers wept and Boris had to apologise . Even the Conservative party decided to rectify the matter by having a vote on whether  ‘Jamie Oliver was a national hero’, with 77% in favour, maybe Jamie is not so ridicule worthy after all.........

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
   
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