Nov. 4, 2009
What’s that Long Orange Item? First Grader Had Not Held Carrot Nor Watch Bugs Bunny
Daughter of City VIP Gave Breakfast to Dog
By Tony Rutherford Reporter
Huntington, WV (HNN) – Chef Jamie Oliver has made a bet and does not want to lose to a DAWG personality named Rod. The “Naked Chef” has boasted that he can collect pictures of 1,000 people preparing one of his recipes.
On Tuesday afternoon, Third Avenue intersecting Pullman Square and Jamie’s Kitchen was shut for a November 3 Cook-a-thon. Tables were set up in the street as about 250 volunteer gathered to cook a healthy beef stir-fry recipe under Jamie’s direction.
One of those participating in the late afternoon cook-a-thon was Sylvia Wilson, the librarian at Central Elementary School. Chef Oliver spent time working on school lunches there. After entering her name and number to volunteer for the cook-a-thon, “I actually got two phone calls and an email.”
Wilson arrived for her 30 minute session finding the street closed off and Pullman roped off. “There were long tables with cooking stations set up [in the street], a little gas, a Wouk and stir fry. They brought the food to us, the recipe and he told us what to do.”
The recipe was a beef stir fry with scallions, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, honey, beans, spaghetti noodles, and lime juice.
She called the experience “fun” and the result “very good.” The email provided the caution, “You can eat what you cook, but wait until we take a picture.”
Jamie Oliver and one of the producers came around and took the shots which will be posted on a wall in the kitchen.
“He got on the stage in front of us and told us what to do. I was very simple,” Ms. Wilson said. “You put in the scallions, put in the meat, whip it around a little bit and add snow peas and beans, the pasta, lime juice , honey and soy sauce.”
Asked about the motives of Chef Oliver, which have been questioned, Wilson explained that after having worked at Central Elementary with his crew, she knows he has the Tri-State’s best interest at heart. She’s not sure what Ryan Seacrest (the production company) will do to Jamie’s final product.
Wilson called the new menus “healthier” but “a lot more work for the cooks.”
As for the children, “they are having a harder time getting used to the new food. They are used to packaged stuff. I grew up with a working mom and we ate together every night. We helped her make things from scratch. We couldn’t afford steak or frozen things.”
Many people today have gotten in to the frozen and processed food habit. “We don’t cook as much,” Wilson said. “We tend to over salt, over sugar, and over everything else. We’re so used to going out that the results are tragic,” she said referring to the tendency to become overweight. “Kids are growing up not knowing anything but chicken fingers, hamburgers and hot dogs.”
After gathering an alphabetical vegetable and fruit basket, she showed it to her classes. Instead of looking, many of the young students wanted hands on time with these objects. “I was getting a little frustrated that I couldn’t follow my lesson plan, they were very curious about wanting to touch everything.”
She asked one first grader, “Have you not held a carrot before?” The youngster responded, “No.” Forgetting about the planned lesson, she knew this was a spontaneous “teaching moment” and from then on she passed vegetables around the room, such as cauliflower and zucchini . “I took it as an opportunity to broaden their horizons as to what is out there.”
To encourage as many children as possible to eat the meals, during the week at the school, Oliver made a telephone tree call encouraging parents NOT to pack lunches and suggest it’s okay to try new food items.
“Some of them say, I don’t like it, but teachers in the lunch room tell them to try it. I don’t know the percentage, but I’ve walked by and [some] of the plates are clean,” Wilson explained.
During the week at the school, Oliver stressed that chocolate and strawberry milk contain lots of sugar, so the school now serves white milk only. “It is astronomical. I was flabbergasted,” adding that the chef estimated two or three cups of sugar in one month from drinking chocolate or strawberry milk at breakfast and lunch.
Asked about the lunch menu alteration, Wilson said that “yesterday, they had spaghetti with a vegetable sauce that has tomatoes , other vegetables, and mushrooms. Today, they had sloppy Joe’s,” which Wilson did not find that appealing but called them “totally edible. They had macaroni and cheese with broccoli . The kids didn’t want to eat that because it was not orange.” One of the best was baked chicken with honey and BBQ sauce. “It was great,” the librarian beamed. “He had real mashed potatoes leaving some of the skins on.”
The teacher has not been distracted by any of the worrisome challenges to Oliver’s intentions.
Describing herself as an optimist, she characterized herself as “not overweight so I don’t take it personally, and don’t mind someone from the outside coming in and telling me [about healthier cooking and eating]. Most of the meals , I like”.
By contrast, her son at Huntington High School , where Oliver is now working, does not share his mother’s openness to the cook from England.
Wilson said, in summation, “It’s good food, but some kids are not eating it [because they aren’t familiar with it].”
And, Brandi Jacob-Jones, director of administration and finance for the City of Huntington, indicated that her two-year-old daughter rebelled also.
Last Sunday morning, mom thought, “Do I run out and go to Bob Evans or buy her something from McDonald’s or fix her breakfast? For me, personally, I needed to not do the easy thing and take the time and prepare breakfast.”
The result? Ms. Jacob-Jones said her daughter, “fed the dog the breakfast. The dog seemed to enjoy it.”
“Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” will air in the United States sometime in early 2010 on the ABC Network.

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