Renowned chef Jamie Oliver is stepping outside the kitchen to take on the exciting task of judging contestants on Oprah's Big Give. Gayle talks with Jamie about his own charities and why he wanted to take part in a television project that promotes giving back to others.
Jamie skyrocketed to success in his 20s as a celebrity chef by focusing on cooking with local, fresh foods. Since then, Jamie has combined his love of food with his determination to give back to the community. "The whole pay-it-forward concept is what I base my charity on in England," he says. Jamie has opened four high-profile restaurants around the world that are also charitable foundations—he trains disadvantaged young people in the restaurant business. "We train them for 18 months and get them a job, and then as time goes on and they get more experience, they come back and they help us teach the new generations," he says.
The premise of Oprah's Big Give—which challenges 10 people to give back to society and change the lives of others—appealed to Jamie's love of the pay-it-forward concept. He and judges Tony Gonzalez and Malaak Compton-Rock crisscrossed the country with the contestants and evaluated their work based on presentation, accomplishment, leadership, creativity and, ultimately, the good they were able to bestow on others. "We wanted them to shock us, surprise us, blow us away—and most weeks they did," he says.
While judging a primetime TV competition was a new experience for Jamie, he says he didn't let his duties go to his head. Instead, he says he tried to motivate the contestants with guidance. "You can break people down and you can make people make change quickly by doing that and being rude and shouting, but I don't like that style," he says. "My style has always been a bit more about mentoring."
Published on January 01, 2008