Jamie Oliver and Patrick Drake are men on a mission to change the way the world eats – one meal at a time, writes Kate Miranda
Jamie Oliver is one year into his global campaign urging G20 countries to introduce compulsory, practical food education in all schools. More than 1.6 million people have signed his petition supporting the campaign. It’s part of his mission to tackle childhood obesity and encourage healthier eating through education. ‘Everything I do is about food education, and about empowering everyone everywhere to understand more about food, where it comes from, how to cook it and what it does to our bodies,’ explains Jamie.
Jamie has also been heavily campaigning for a sugar tax. In the March Budget, Chancellor George Osborne came to the party with a tax on the makers of sugary soft drinks. Responding to the announcement, Jamie said although it was a symbolic slap, it was a big moment in child health. ‘This feels like a victory for Britain’s children and for everyone who has campaigned so hard for a tax on sugary sweetened drinks.’ It was not something he was expecting but it is testament to the formidable campaigner he has become – producing a childhood obesity strategy, rallying millions to publicly back his campaign and then successfully lobbying the government to act. He has a platform, an audience and a kitchen to campaign from. It’s a recipe for change. For Jamie, knowing how to cook is an essential life skill. ‘Just like reading and writing, it should be learnt at a young age as it will serve you for the rest of your life.
Loads of research out there shows that if you understand food and know how to cook early on, you can put those skills into practice and are likelier to be healthier all round.’
‘I really hope that we’ll see the movement towards healthier food, cooked from scratch, continue to grow. Everyone is absolutely mad about food these days – it’s really become a big part of our lives. It’s great that everyone is embracing more nutritious options – there’s a real curiosity around how we can use food as medicine, and the power it has on how we feel. That really excites me,’ fires Jamie. Jamie’s goal of encouraging more people to cook healthier meals is aligned to that of HelloFresh co-founder Patrick Drake. ‘We were on each other’s radar and our partnership came about organically,’ Patrick tells me as we chat among staff in the kitchen of HelloFresh HQ in Oxford Street.
‘We both have the same mission of inspiring people to cook tasty, nutritious, home cooked food. That’s why I’m so excited about the partnership – it has its roots in a joint mission we had separately and now that has come together we can become more than the sum of our own parts.’ Patrick is experiencing a meteoric rise not that dissimilar to Jamie’s in speed and size. The 30-something lawyer turned chef founded HelloFresh along with his co-founders in his loungeroom just four years ago, himself handpacking the first boxes for a mere 10 customers. ‘I was absolutely exhausted. I remember thinking how will we do this when we have 50 customers. When you decide to do something different, there are 100 naysayers saying why you can’t do it but that sort of attitude is more about their own fear of failure. Last month we shipped over seven million meals to customers worldwide. Food is one of the most simple accessible pleasures in life. Everyone is capable of creating nutritious, tasty meals.’
HelloFresh has just been named the fastest Startup to come out of Europe since 2012. Jamie provides a recipe each week for HelloFresh and a donation from each box goes towards Jamie’s Food Foundation. ‘The guys at HelloFresh have achieved what they set out to do – they’ve made cooking really good food from scratch, using topquality ingredients, really accessible for busy people. Cooking from scratch is absolutely the best way to look after your health. When you’re working with raw ingredients and turning them into a meal, you’re in complete control of what you’re putting into your body. I don’t think anyone would argue with that,’ says Jamie.
It also saves on food waste, which is an issue both chefs campaign on. For Jamie, there’s just no reason for waste. ‘It’s a big problem, it really is, and I only think we’re going to become more aware of it as time goes on. As individuals, we can all do our bit by buying what we need, being mindful about putting our leftovers to good use, and recycling anything we don’t need.’ Patrick recently discussed the issue of food waste with the Princess Royal at the annual
City Food Lecture held at The Guildhall. ‘This was an occasion that I got completely wrong,’ Patrick confesses. ‘I turned up to the lecture wearing jeans and looking like a hipster, unaware of the dress code of suit and tie. I hid in the back. I was amazed when the speaker, Christophe Jouan, referred the HelloFresh three times in his speech, stating that “HelloFresh is shaping the future of food in the world”. I went to the reception afterwards and when an official tapped me on the shoulder, I thought I was going tobe asked to leave because of what I was wearing but she told me that the Princess Royal would like to speak with me. We spoke for ten minutes about HelloFresh and preventing food waste. Princess Anne was very well informed about the impact of waste,’ Patrick shares.
The pair has serious global penetration – Jamie’s cook books are in 30 million homes and HelloFresh is delivering seven million meals a month worldwide. Many more millions have learnt to cook through Jamie’s TV shows, books and HelloFresh recipes. That level of saturation only seems to make them even hungrier and more energized to
continue campaigning about the benefits of cooking healthy food.
Jamie’s tips for cooking with kids
1. MAKE IT A TOP PRIORITY
Recognise that feeding your kids right is a top priority, and find the time to make sure they’re getting food they not only enjoy, but is good for them too.’
2. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Kids are pretty straightforward. They generally like the same things and will be happy to have their favourites every week or two.
3. PUT SALAD ON THE TABLE
One of my top tips is to always have a big bowl of salad on the table for them to get used to. If you put it out ten minutes before dinner is ready, they’ll be so hungry they might even start picking at it!
4. TRICKY TREATS
Get the kids to think of things as a treat. Somehow my missus has got the young ones asking for frozen peas as their treat at the moment. I don’t know how she did it, but it’s genius. There are loads of great recipes on my Family Food Tube channel and hub on jamieoliver.com.