What were your first impressions of Huntington, West Virginia?A:
It's really beautiful—a really lovely, normal town next to a river. The people of that area are good, fun-loving people and were very welcoming. Obviously the challenge that I had was fairly large. I think that I was quite lucky actually, as there could have been a lot of other places that were a lot harder.Q:
How did you feel when you went to the radio station and Rod
was so negative?A:
Having Rod be so negative was a massive disappointment. I guess his job is to feel the pulse and tempo of the town and talk about it, but Rod did not believe that Huntington needed help—did not believe that they needed to be reminded of those negative health statistics—and he didn't really believe anything needed to change. As someone who works in the broadcast industry, I feel it's really important that everyone faces the issues head-on, then contributes to the solution. My message is really clear: Teach people about food, and they will make better decisions. Ultimately, whether you're American, Chinese, Greek, Turkish or English, people don't like change, and they react very strongly to someone rocking the boat. But not everyone felt the way Rod did, and in the end, it was nice for me to go into such a lovely community, put my head down and get to know people and get them cooking.Q:
Did you expect to find the kitchen so well equipped at the elementary school?A:
Because West Virginia is a state that has been pinpointed as having a fairly bad record, it has been under the microscope for a number of years now. You can see that that negative attention has led to better resources. Without question, West Virginia has some of the best-equipped kitchens in the States. They're the best school kitchens I've ever seen.