Jamie Oliver is an exception. I've been a fan of his recipes since those weird early "Naked Chef" days and have been constantly impressed with all of the work he's done since then, from his London restaurant that employs at-risk teenagers to his efforts to end childhood obesity here in the U.S. His various projects are more than good P.R.; I think he really cares.
A few weeks ago, I interviewed him about the philosophy behind his new cookbook, Meals in Minutes. I have to say, this book is great. Even if you have many Jamie Oliver titles lining your shelves (and we certainly do) this one is different and worth seeking out. Instead of individual recipes, Meals in Minutes is based around three- and four-course menus that you can make in about 30 minutes or less -- which is ideal for dinner party-throwing, but also those I'm-hungry-what's-for-dinner weeknight meals.
What I like most about Jamie Oliver is his unpretentiousness about food. Unlike other well-intentioned people in the food industry, he doesn't get hung up on everything being just-so. In the interview, he talks about putting cutlery in a jar and having people set a place for themselves at the table, and how he makes scrambled eggs for dinner when time's tight and his family is starving. If he can cop to eating and entertaining like that, it should make us all feel better about our own sometimes-flawed methods.
It's not about being perfect, it's about making the effort.
[Photo: Meals in Minutes]