Person of the Week: Jamie Oliver

ByABC News
September 30, 2005, 3:53 PM

Sept. 30, 2005 — -- Jamie Oliver is good at a lot of things. He's only 30 years old, and he's already a celebrity chef, an author, a wildly successful businessman and, most recently, a campaigner.

Oliver took on nearly 60 schools in London and promised to deliver healthy food to every kid for the same price. He sought to improve 21,000 student meals a day, and all the while, Oliver filmed the process for a television program.

"England has the most unhealthy kids in Europe. America has some of the most unhealthy kids in the world with regards to obesity, Type-2 diabetes, and I just think it's a real shame," Oliver said. "What's I've seen and witnessed so far is shocking, scary."

Nearly 5 billion school lunches were served in the United States last year. Most of them, Oliver says, are pre-packaged, processed and full of preservatives.

"If you look at an ingredient -- a product like a sausage or a burger -- and you look at the ingredients, you should have four or five, but it's got 49 and you're like, 'Wow!' I realized that there were more standards in place for dog food than there were for our own kids, and that just sums it all up," he said.

It was not a quick sell, but kids eventually ate and liked the food. The TV program raised public awareness and forced the British government to take action.

Britain committed more than $500 million to improve school lunch. Oliver now has his sights set on America's lunchrooms, since 20 percent of school-age children in America are obese.

"It's wrong, it's immoral," Oliver said. "Who on earth is policing it? Who in the government has hope for your kids? No one."

Oliver was born into the business. His father owned a pub and restaurant. Oliver was working weekends at the pub when he was 8.

He continued with formal chef training, and by the time he was 24, he had his own cooking show. He is also known as the "Naked Chef."

"It was about kind of going against the grain of all the original, old cooking shows," Oliver said. "Stripping down the food, stripping down the pretension, no cheffy talk."