Story by Jamie Oliver
Jamie gave an interview to his friends on Myspace after Jamie’s Ministry of Food aired in the UK. The interview also outlines what Jamie’s wish list was for the Ministry of Food to succeed at that time.
So, now the series has ended, and I feel really proud of it. I know that some people in Rotherham felt the first programme depicted them in a bad light but it was never intended to be Rotherham-specific or class-specific. My group were from all sorts of backgrounds. Definitely Natasha and Claire needed the most help at the beginning but all the class were eating the same kind of food when I met them. Hopefully when we got into programmes 2, 3 and 4, the people of Rotherham realised that it was a beautiful snapshot of both Rotherham and of Great Britain today. It has shown that with just a little bit of help and access to good information, you can make a massive difference to someone’s life.
What annoyed me about some of the criticism I received was the claim that I’d chosen clichéd characters. I can swear to you that that was not the case. Ask anyone who works in the National Health Service and they’ll tell you that they see ten times worse on a regular basis. I think that sometimes people don’t like to admit what is happening around them. I know I’ve presented a balanced snapshot of what is happening in a lot of homes around the country. I did this documentary because I wanted to get people thinking and I think it’s definitely done that.
My proudest moment from the experience has been witnessing the complete transformation of my class. Seeing them become really enthusiastic about cooking, so much so that they were all inspired to teach their friends has been amazing. To see the transformation of people like Mick, Claire and Natasha, was so important and inspiring for me because these projects can be hard and they make you question yourself and what it is that you’re trying to achieve. To see my class Passing It On so incredibly well to their friends and then see those friends in turn Passing It On again, was just absolute proof that you can make brilliant things happen.
I was asked recently if I could be granted three wishes for Ministry, what would they be? I’ve been thinking about it and my wishes are:
Wish number one: The government to support the setting up of a Ministry of Food headquarters in every town in the UK. My strategy would mean there would be long term change, and I think that within 3 to 5 years the centres would have done their job and could be used for other things. I do think that the next 5 years are incredibly important to the health of the UK. The decisions that we, and the government, make now will affect what happens to us in the next 10 to 15 years, and will really make an impact on the health of our kids.
Wish number two: The government to not only commit to teaching every child how to cook at school, but to back this up with a really clear strategy that ensures this is done properly. All classes need to be relevant and engaging, and teachers need to feel empowered to teach them. We need to start giving teachers the love that they deserve. The number of home economics teachers is dwindling and I think this is because they have been unloved and unappreciated for many years.
My third wish would be, and this is the most important one really, that every member of the public would be inspired to Pass It On in some way, shape or form. In my view, to be an incredible person, to be an incredible family member, to be an incredible citizen, all you need to do is to pass on some basic recipes to a handful of friends and family that can’t cook, once every two weeks, over a six-month period. That would really make a radical, radical difference. Pass It On really can work, as we’ve seen in Rotherham, but everyone has to do their bit to make it happen. I hope my show has demonstrated that it can be fun, easy and cheap to do, and that one person’s effort can make a huge difference.
Love Jamie O x