Monday, March 14, 2005

Jamie's School Dinners

Each Wednesday for the past three weeks, I have been watching a show on the telly called Jamie’s School Dinners.

First, some background... Jamie Oliver is a young chef (he’s in his twenties, which I supposed makes him ‘young’) from England. In addition to having written cookbooks and owning a popular restaurant here, he is also on a television show (which can be seen on the Feed network in the United States) called ‘The Naked Chef’ (don’t worry…he’s not naked…I think it refers to the food, but I haven’t figured that out yet).

Anyway, his current quest is to reform the state of British school dinners (Americans would call them school lunches). With many school dinner budgets being less than 40 pence per student per meal, and with many British kids being finicky, a great number of school caterers (more on this in a minute) turn to easy-to-prepare, pre-packaged food products.

(About the school caterers: In my experience in Virginia, school cafeterias are often run by the school systems themselves. Here in England, this task sometimes seems to be contracted out to private companies called caterers. Make no mistake, however, despite being called caterers there are no trays of canapés or tuxedoed waiters moving about. Instead, there are dinner ladies of the finest sort.)

The first three of the four programs have shown Jamie’s attempts to bring decent, healthy food into schools while not going over budget and without having students protest on the school grounds (which unfortunately happened at the beginning of episode three). After eventual successes at two schools, Jamie has convinced the Greenwich school council to allow him to take over the running of school kitchens for all of the schools in the council (and to give you an idea of size, this means about 20,000 students). Episode three ended with shots of night one at Jamie’s Dinner Lady Boot Camp – a three-day training camp run by Jamie and the army (seriously) to train these dinner ladies to cook rather than simply reheat.


Post a Comment

<< Home