His next prime time TV series finds the "Naked Chef" hunkered down in Huntington, W.Va., which has been called one of the unhealthiest towns in the United States. Oliver's job on the show is to get inside school menus and local grocery shopping and dining habits and perform a makeover to help Huntington drop pounds.
Oliver's message on the reality program (to air on ABC) is in line with a gospel he has long preached: Use fresh and local ingredients whenever possible, and just say no to processed food.
But it was never his intention, Oliver said, to be the next food evangelist.
For some of Jamie Oliver's favorite recipes, click HERE
"It's not really my original personality to sort of start campaigning and stuff," Oliver said. "I think I'm a fairly regular guy and when things upset me, I think I'll say it like anyone else, but of course my life involves TV cameras, so often that gets aired and then people start agreeing with you. People start writing about you and then you end up on the news ... and then before you know it you've become a [mouthpiece] for food and ethics and farming ... so it's weird. I never asked for it. It's not like I wanted to be a politician or anything like that."
If captain nutrition was never a role Oliver sought, it is a role he has embraced wholeheartedly, notably in his new book, "Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals." The publication is just the latest installment in a career that stands out for its brilliance even in the razzle-dazzle world of celebrity chefs. Oliver, now 34, starred in "The Naked Chef" in his early 20s. He followed the hit up with "Jamie's Kitchen," "Jamie's School Lunch Project," "Jamie's Great Italian Escape," "Return to School Dinners," "Jamie's Chef," "Jamie at Home," "Jamie's Ministry of Food" ... the list goes on and on. He has published a shelf full of cookbooks and books on food. These days, with his wife and three daughters, he splits his time between the United States and Britain.
The native of Essex, England, recently sat down for a conversation about how he came to cooking, growing up in front of the camera, bad (and good) parenting and the importance of eating well.
"All of my family have pretty much cooked all of their life really, my granddad, and my dad," he said. "I went to college, trained, worked in France, Italy, London, and ended up doing TV about 13 years ago, scarily. I was very young when I first did TV, a massive bit of luck for my age. When I was young I was fairly good and able, but I had a total baby face so it was kind of apparently compelling that such a little s*** could cook, and such a little s*** had sort of like old man's hands they said. But it was pretty much sort of a ferocious 12 years, really."
Oliver said the prevailing ethic at home was to cook, and to work.