Backlash leaves Jamie feeling heat in US kitchen
Published 08/11/2010 | 05:00
Jamie Oliver's attempts to change eating habits in the home of showbusiness have suffered a setback that threatens to scupper his attempts to join the ranks of American television's biggest British stars.
Education officials in Los Angeles have rejected an opportunity to have the Essex-born chef make a television series about the city's school dinners.
In a blow to Oliver, who won access to government ministers while overhauling British school meals, they said they preferred working with actual "nutrition experts".
The snub came as Oliver prepared to move his young family to Los Angeles, where he plans to make the second series of his US programme, 'Food Revolution'.
Officials from the city's Unified School District also suggested that their counterparts in West Virginia, where Oliver filmed the first series, had not recommended taking part.
In a letter to Oliver's producers, Melissa Infusino, the district's director of partnerships, said the aims of the programme were "in perfect alignment" with their own. But she added: "We believe our direct work with nutrition experts, health advocates, the community, schools and students is the most effective strategy for our continued success and improvement."
She said budgetary and time constraints meant that participation in the series would "prevent us from committing 100pc of our efforts to our students".
Oliver's first US series focused on Huntington, West Virginia, the city with the highest obesity rate in America. It won good viewing figures and an Emmy award, but also received some sharp criticism.
A 'Washington Post' review said it "regurgitated the worst of reality TV pap". Its critic said Oliver, "a foreigner with meticulously rumpled hair", was "afflicted with the kind of warm-hearted caring that requires the constant presence of a TV crew". (© Daily Telegraph, London)