I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of this show was; new and exotic foods or a tale of Souls Saved by Soup?
Jamie endeavouring to change things for the better isn’t a new notion of course, and it’s something he does well. He never seems overly patronising and appears ready to listen to others, but if the purpose of this new offering from the infinitely marketable stable that is Jamie Oliver, was only to demonstrate new recipes, why the liberal lobbing in of gangster gone good stories?
The moral of the show was fairly evident early on; a love of food and taking on a career in catering can get a person out of trouble and into a normal workaday life, which is all well and good, but the combination of the two things in last night’s show made for singularly clunky segues.
For instance, in one scene, we saw Jamie with a young woman, Jocelyn, who’d escaped gang life but whose boyfriend was in prison for murder. No sooner had she made that dramatic revelation than Jamie said, “And now Jocelyn’s going to be my ‘homegirl’ as we make a Mexican salad with a zesty kick.”
It was rather like one of the GMTV presenters interviewing the widow of a man killed by lightening, and ending the piece by saying, “We’re all very sorry for your loss… Now, while we’re on the subject of lightening, let’s check in with Claire who’s got all your Bank Holiday weather news.”
Going so rapidly from discussing the weighty issues of murderous gangs to a “zesty kick” salad just seemed, at best, inappropriate.
Maybe we should let Jamie out of the kitchen – and therefore absolve him of the requisite to cook every two minutes – and let him do some social commentary shows. He’s affable, he gets on with pretty much everyone and people do seem happy to open up to him, so if that’s the way his career’s going, let him ditch the whisk and flambé equipment and just do a Ross Kemp styly career turnaround.
However, if he’s going to stick with food making, then he doesn’t really need to do so while trying to juggle it with journalistic endeavour.
But, those niggles aside, as with everything that features Jamie, this show was undoubtedly entertaining. He’s the TV equivalent of the golden egg and he’d have millions tuning in to watch him do his laundry, me included. With his raucous and ready laugh, his Normal Bloke persona and his wit, he can do no wrong can he?
And there were some amazing – if rather useless here in the UK – recipes to come out of the show and it’s also to be applauded for avoiding the over-filmed glossy streets of LA and instead, boldly going where no chef has gone before to gut the underbelly of the town in search of ‘real’ characters and ‘real’ food. One of many entertaining scenes was when Jamie got a tad high on some plant or another. Oddly, the stoned version of Jamie didn’t seem all that different from the sober version, but he did take on a singularly glassy stare for a while there.
So, with the message that food can take you out of a life of crime, and some handy hints on cooking cacti, I can’t deny that this was an engaging show, but I hope in weeks to come, we can have less do-gooding and more cooking, or vice versa…