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Jamie Oliver

© David Loftus
Jamie Oliver's next project: home cooks.

It was definitely one of the strangest wake-up calls I’ve ever received. Jamie Oliver called at dawn, a couple of hours before our scheduled phone interview. We were supposed to discuss his newfound green thumb and the American release of his latest cookbook, Jamie at Home. But the conversation quickly turned to politics (namely food politics, American politics and clashing of the two) and Jamie’s next project, which he hopes will kick off a viral, back-to-basics home-cooking movement in the U.K.

More details—and some choice sound bites—from our chat:

-Having revolutionized school lunch programs and empowered young, aspiring chefs in the U.K., Jamie focuses on adults for his next project: “At the moment I’m filming a documentary in the north of England. It’s the story of 10 regular families and how food doesn’t have a place in their lives. I teach these 10 people a recipe each week. They each have to teach two of their mates, and them two of their mates. I don’t know what to call it really. It’s like a pay it forward, pass it on, pyramid scheme thing. Cooking shows aren’t good enough, cookbooks aren’t good enough. It has to be hand-and-hand, a community coming together. These 10 recipes can literally save the world. That’s my belief.”

-Jamie on American politics: “Your election process is much more painful than ours. Have they ruled out Hillary yet? You need to put in someone who’s inspirational, charismatic and has the ability to make really good moral decisions. It’s amazing to me that one of the most important countries in the whole wide world is also one of the most unhealthy. I haven’t heard one [candidate] talk about what they’re going do transform the nation’s health. I’m not talking about insurance, I’m talking about proactive programs.”

-Jamie on how to fix America’s school lunch program: “It’s going to take a top network, like ABC, and someone incredible, like Oprah, to gather the trust of the American public and get them to stand up. After that it’s pretty damn simple. Once you start spreading the word, sh*t happens in government. In England the government told me they had no money [to improve school lunches], then three days after my documentary came out they found $300 million out of f**&#ing nowhere. Something’s going to happen in America. And when it happens, it will be big and it will get dealt with quickly. The question is how much longer the people will have to wait.”