In Focus | Olympics London 2012

For Oliver, food and sport go hand in hand

Celebrity chef, who has a restaurant in Dubai, holds court

  • By Robin Chatterjee, Senior Associate Editor
  • Published: 14:36 August 8, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Robin Chatterjee/Gulf News
  • Famed British chef Jamie Oliver at a press conference in London this week.

London: Famed British chef, author, social worker-activist and foodie hero Jamie Oliver is well known in most countries by the strength of his books, TV shows and his ability to promote good wholesome British food.

In his chosen field, Oliver is as big as they come — a worldwide superstar with the talent and the will to change people’s lives. When it comes to food, healthy eating, education and sport, he is the ‘people’s champion’ who believes and advocates the fact that anyone can turn their lives around through cooking.

Oliver, who has restaurants in many countries, including one in the festival City called ‘Jamie’s Italian’ in Dubai, has for long campaigned for schools in Britain to provide students with healthy food. It hasn’t endeared him to the governments that come and go in Britain, but he chose the London Games to make a point that food and sport go hand in hand.

‘’I believe that the Olympics is a great opportunity to showcase food,’’ he said. ‘’Food, education at school and sport are areas where Britain has done badly,’’ unmindful of the fact that Team GB were putting up quite an inspired display in their home Games. Oliver subscribes to the view that the development of any individual begins when there is a firm grass roots investment, this is where schools come into play.

When asked if he was a chef or a campaigner, Oliver quipped: ‘’Both. But I think primarily I am a food lover. I must stress here that the best meals are cooked by our mothers and not by chefs. I think what bugs most people about me is the fact that I have an opinion and I am passionate. These two qualities when clubbed together can make an individual very annoying,’’ he said with a wicked smile on his face. ‘’In the world of food there are no rules except passion and quality that just goes up, up and up.’’

According to Oliver, what today’s generation need to do to improve their lifestyles is to “find food, learn about food and get involved in sport. It’s a process of energy in, energy out.’’

Looking forward to the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Oliver said: “A lot of people from Brazil come to London, they stay for a length of time and return home. I would ask them to focus on their own rustic food that is peculiar to their culture instead of coming here and getting influenced by the cuisine from other countries and going back to open typical restaurants. Focus on your own food and promote it. It is a unique concept. I would love to be in Brazil during the Olympics and get involved with some good old-fashioned cooking. I follow my friendships through kitchens.”

Gulf News

The Olympics Blog

Behind the scenes action from London

Photo Gallery

Action from the London 2012 Olympic Games

Swimmers attend a training session at the Aquatics Center

Know your Olympic venues

Unique look inside the venues for Olympics

Olympic rings

Know your Olympic sport

An in-depth infographic on each discipline