Each week I’m recapping Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution in order to provide a forum for discussion on the show and what’s happening with our food in general.
Previously: Jamie’s chicken nugget experiment failed, the school lunch was more successful, and kids learned about vegetables.
The show starts out with the radio program again, and it seems to be good when a caller says she supports him. Then of course the host says what is probably true: “We’ll be real nice when he’s here, and when he leaves we’ll go right back to what we’re eating.”
Jamie goes to the elementary school to see how the second day of the 2-week trial period of cooking Jamie’s way is going. He brought in extra help to ensure they could do the work, which I thought was nice. He asks how it went and Alice tells him the food sucked: “The chicken was tasteless.” (Probably not full of salt, is what I’m translating that as.) Alice seems pretty bitter about the entire thing, in my opinion. Jamie goes to talk to Millie instead, and she is a heck of a lot nicer, trying to reassure him that things are just fine. Lunch appears to go well, and Jamie heads off to the high school.
He’s been given permission to work at the school by the head of food services, and Jamie’s excited about that because it shows a level of faith in him. We see the lunch options and it looks to be similar to what it was when I was in high school – pizza options, burger/chicken sandwich and fries, standard rotating meal, salad bar (we had a sandwich bar instead, but there were pre-made salads). This episode is sponsored by Hidden Valley Ranch, by the way. I really hate how whenever you pause the video on abc.com the video gets small and the advertisement huge. Anyway…
Jamie asks some of the kids if they’re concerned about the food their eating, and they kind of just laugh him off (also because he tries to butter them up first by saying they’re “foxy ladies”. weird.) He goes around talking to the kids to find out more about their food, and says he needs to do things differently here than how it was at the elementary school.
He brings together a group of kids and talks to them each about why they volunteered to help out. They’re all there for different reasons, but a few do say they’re concerned about health issues. Another says that he had run away from home and is now working to get back on track. Jamie takes them to his storefront and works with them to make a chicken dish.
They seem to have fun making the food, and all do a good job with it. Then they talk some more about why they are interested in cooking, and about why they want to help others. One girl says she feels it’s her last chance to change her own health issues, and feels like she finally has a support group. She’s in tears as she’s talking, and they all hug. I think these are great kids.
We go back to the elementary school and Rhonda (food service director) is there to see how things are going. Alice admits it has been going well, but credits the extra help they’ve been getting from the staff Jamie brought in. Alice doesn’t think they’ll be able to do it without the extra help. Basically the problem is that they need more money in the district to be able to properly train the staff on bulk scratch cooking.
Jamie takes his high school kids out to a farm where they watch bison for a bit, and then around a campfire have bison tacos (heh). He asks the kids what they want changed in the school, and they tell him it should be less fatty, better food overall, and the way it’s served could be better (i.e. plates instead of trays). Jamie’s plan is to have a fundraiser dinner, and he wants the kids to help cook. The kids are all for it, even though they’re nervous. They also jump at the chance to talk to the diners afterward to tell why they need change.
Next up is the first day in the high school kitchen. The meal he’s prepared is teriyaki chicken and noodles with stirfry veggies. Jamie’s excited because the head cook (Marcy) here is supportive. He’s also got his teen team on his side, and he sends them out with small samples to hand out to the rest of the kids, because he’s still up against the fry and pizza lines. The kids seem to like it.
Rhonda is there too, and says the menu doesn’t have enough veggies in it – it needs to be total fruit and veggies of 1 1/4 cup. She and Jamie talk about it and she tells him to use the fries as a short term solution. Because apparently potatoes count as vegetables! Jamie’s as surprised as I am, and he says that it probably is part of the reason we have such a problem with the food system. Jamie tries to point out to Rhonda that none of the kids who go through the fry line are taking the optional salad or grabbing fruit, but she doesn’t appear to care.
Woah. Jamie decides to end the fry line in the middle of lunch service. Then he goes through the lunchroom and takes fries away from people’s plates. I love that he has a football player on his teen team, because that kid probably has his popularity to lend to Jamie as well.
It’s the night of the fundraiser dinner! The teen team look great in their chef jackets. On the menu: garden salad with local apples, slow cooked pork crostini, roasted pumpkin risotto, and wild berry almond tart with homemade ice cream. They’ve got 3 hours to prepare food for 80 people. This is kind of like Top Chef for Teens. Which would be awesome.
The football player, Rob, has to get to practice and leaves, much to Jamie’s annoyance considering the kid didn’t tell him beforehand. His cooking partner Brian is kind of stuck in the lurch, but thankfully the others seem to be doing well enough on their tasks that it will turn out in the end. Rob returns! Whew.
In the middle of prep the senator calls and tells Jamie he can make it after all. Which is great, except for the toast currently being burned on the grill and the risotto currently being burned in the pot. Yikes.
The guests are arriving and things are getting down to the wire. The teen team is losing steam. Britney has to take a break in the cooler and Brian seems about to pass out or something. Jamie actually asks him if he is tripping out, but then tells him to dig deep and keep going. They work at plating the food and do a great job of following Jamie’s instructions.
The guests don’t know the teen team were the chefs, and think Jamie did everything. We go around talking to some of them and they compliment the food. I’m getting excited to see what will happen when they find out. These kids are amazing, really, and Jamie is very proud of their work.
Jamie goes out into the dining room to address the guests. They clap for the food and then he brings out the teen team to more applause. The cameras show the parents too, and you can tell how proud they are. The teen team look really happy, too. And probably a little embarrassed.
The teens address the crowd individually. Ryan talks about how Jamie’s program has helped him where time in lockup didn’t. Learning to cook has helped him with his anger issues, even when he burned himself in the kitchen. Britney … oh my. She reveals that she has spots on her liver and her doctor has told her she might only have 7 years to live. It’s heart wrenching.
Jamie interviews that the teens helped break down the wall that was the barrier to what he’s trying to do. “If that doesn’t move you to support this movement, I don’t know what will.”
The senator comes to the kitchen to meet the kids. He says that they are making history, and are the start of the change that will happen in West Virginia and the rest of the United States. Ryan says, “You make the change and I’ll believe it.” Pretty bold, but I definitely see why he would say that.
We end with the kids talking to their families about how it went, and Jamie saying that he’s got more support now, but still has a long way to go.
Next week: Jamie attempts to teach 1,000 people to cook in just one week.
Sometimes I get worried that we aren’t seeing all of the sides, since they feature Alice so much. I want to hear from all the cooks at the elementary school, and I was happy to hear from Millie a bit. ABC is probably featuring Alice because of her attitude, but not everything has to be edited for the drama, does it? It was nice to see the high school cooks supporting him, at least.
I think the teen team is great, and a great idea. They’re at the age where they are learning about how to take care of themselves once they’re out of school and finding out that they might have been making some bad choices when it comes to food. They all have inspiring reasons for being in the kitchen, and I definitely think it helped win over some people to Jamie’s side when they spoke at the fundraiser dinner. I was tearing up at home; there’s no way I would have been without tears had I been there in person.
I hope next week we get back to the Edwards family. I’m curious to see how they’re doing with Jamie’s guidelines.
What are your thoughts on this week’s episode? Will the teen team have an impact?