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Story by Joan Manalang

Earlier this year the online team had the pleasure of meeting one of our lovely forum members – Joanie Manalang. We were all so impressed with Joanie's determination to make it to London to claim the winning prize from the online Valentine's Day competition. Joanie saved up for nearly a year to travel to London and we were so thrilled that Joanie had such a wonderful time. Here is Joanie's story:

To begin my story I have an English friend Paul who gave the best description how I admire Jamie Oliver. He said, “For Joan, Jamie is GOD”

Having that definition of Jamie in my life, he became my inspiration through the years. I was guided by his books, TV shows and website. This molded me to be the passionate cook I am today. His philosophies in life are what I admired most about him. That fact triggered me to never stop dreaming I would meet him one day.

Came February 2009, I saw this ad on Jamie’s website promoting the Valentine’s video contest. That day I told my self that I am going to win this competition and I did! The editor Danny Mc Cubbin emailed me to confirm that I won. I can have my prizes shipped but I will get it half and the dinner voucher will be forfeited. So I told Danny, why not keep it and I will save some money then I will go to London to claim my prizes. Danny and I became in touch thru email. Since the day I won, I never stop hoping to meet Jamie.

Fast forward to October 4, 2010 I went to FIFTEEN resto in London to finally meet Danny. He was very friendly to invite me to join him for lunch as he cooks curry for his online team. I was surprised to meet a Filipino in the team. After lunch Danny & I went to the stock room office to get my prizes. On the way I noticed how friendly Danny is as a person because everyone we met on the street knows him. So after getting the prizes we were walking to go back to his office. Out of the blue Danny ran so fast and left me in the middle of the street. I was clueless so I chased him and ran after him very fast. Then as I get closer I saw Danny stopping the man who was knocking at the door. They were already talking when I approached them and I was surprised to see that it was JAMIE OLIVER! I was shocked and I felt so surreal. The feeling was unfathomable. Tears of joy began to fell as I spoke to Jamie. The precious few minutes that we talk is the greatest moment in my life. For me he’s one of the biggest yet most humble person on earth!

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<p>Greater things didn’t end after I met Jamie. He allowed me to have a tour at his offices, stockroom, studio and the private test kitchen. That day I saw Adam Perry Lang conducting some test for the launch of Barbecoa. Then dinner came and I had my special meal prepared by the chef of FIFTEEN. I am truly lucky that day.</p>
<p>During my trip I also went to Jamie’s Italian in Liverpool where I had my dinner voucher and I met his wonderful staff that gave me tons of JO products that is beyond what I expected.</p>
<p>My visit to London & Liverpool is one story I should share to the world. I am a dreamer and I can’t thank God enough for the blessings he gave me and that is meeting Danny, his staff, Fifteen staff, Jamie’s Italian staff and of course my one big love Jamie Oliver!</p>
<p><strong>About the author:</strong> Joanie is a keen food blogger and member of JamieOliver.com</p>
<p>To view Joanie's detailed story and to see more photos from her journey, visit:</p>
<p>www.artist-chef.blogspot.com</p>
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