Jamie Oliver was in Toronto for just one night and he cooked up a storm for 3,000 of his favourite fans. Organized by The Art of Cooking and presented by The Food Network, Oliver came, saw and conquered the bedazzled crowd. The Naked Chef was in town promoting his new book and program “Jamie’s America.”
Whether he disclosed his love for chillies, the simplicity of healthy eating or answered the dozens of audience questions, Oliver was always at ease on stage and completely engaging. Although the attendees were primarily women, there was a fair share of men present. When one audience member declared he was the “sexiest” chef, Oliver took it in his stride and with classic self-deprecating British humour.
He stated it was unlikely he would be called to create Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding feast and admitted like many men he had to lie to his wife about her talents as a cook. All the while, he prepared a ceviche style red snapper dish and the perfect “steaks” Mexican-American style.
He taught audience members how to slap their steaks with rosemary (for seasoning) and how to add colour, flavour and seasoning to dishes by adding red and yellow peppers, smoked or red chillies and coriander.
His Food Revolution and sincere belief in the importance of family eating and top nutrition habits being built and taught from childhood was a recurring theme throughout the evening. Oliver’s passion for showing people how easily and cheaply they can eat healthily was infectious and well appreciated by the audience. He recalled eating lamb’s bumhole (as an honoured guest of the Navajo tribe in Arizona) and working side by side with gangsters (from his Fifteen program).
Host and Opening Act Canadian Bob Blumer of The Food Network’s Glutton for Punishment was witty, charming and set the evening on just the right tone. A highlight of his opener was a special competition with a volunteer from the audience where he cooked from scratch a pasta dinner and she opened and heated a can of spaghettini, all the while the two of them had to crack open a dozen eggs each. While the competitor was quicker than perhaps even Blumer was excepting, this race for taste and healthy eating proved to make for enjoyable entertainment.