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Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Ep. 3

On previous episodes of the Revolution, Jamie was given a hard time from many corners, and ran up against quite a few roadblocks, but he was approved for a couple more weeks of cooking at the elementary school.

This week’s episode opens with the always-negative DJ Rod taking a call from a supportive Huntington resident, while Jamie drives along listening. Rod chortles that they’ll all be civil to Jamie while he’s here, but once he leaves, they’ll go back to eating “the side of a cow” or whatever else they want to eat. Rod, FYI: it’s not the side of a cow that’s making your town fat.

Back to the elementary school and more, under the jump!

Jamie heads back to Central City Elementary to visit the cooks. They had some additional help the previous day, and did Jamie’s menu all on their own. Alice, the most negative of the lunch ladies, criticized the flavorless chicken and told Jamie there was “nothing” for the kids to eat. On this day, it looks like the kids are eating at least some of the food, and one of the other cooks, Millie, says it actually went well.

His next stop is one of the district’s high schools, where he’s also going to start cooking. It’s a huge kitchen with four food lines; today, the options are: grilled chicken sandwich with fries, pizza, spaghetti with meat sauce, and a salad bar. Of course, the fries line is the most popular.

Jamie stops a couple of girls with chicken sandwiches and fries, and asks the “foxy young chicks” if the plateful of carb, carb, carb, and milk with more sugar than a soda worries them at all. “Not really,” they answer. Jamie admits that he loves french fries, but eating them every day will give you an enormous hiney. He’s going to have to use a different strategy here than he had at the elementary school, where he gets ambassadors among the student body, and gets the students involved in creating the healthy choices.

He interviews students who are interested in helping. One lost relatives to obesity. One poor girl is obese herself. Even the kid who ran away from home with anger issues seems like he’s on board and ready to go. Jamie’s delighted with his group of “secret weapons,” and takes them back to the downtown kitchen for some training. The kids all learn a simple 1-pan chicken dish. A tiny, short kid has a huge football player help with pounding his chicken flat, which delights me.

The kids all do a great job with the chicken, but the more important part for Jamie is to get them all to sit down and talk about why they’re here and what they want to achieve. They all know that changes need to be made, and they all have an investment in making those changes.

Jamie has a sit-down moment with the camera. He tells us that he came here because of a statistic on a piece of paper, but this all goes way beyond a piece of paper. That piece of paper is gone in an instant, but these are our kids. Who we’ve nurtured all their lives, and who have all been touched, been hurt, been ruined by food.

A visit to the elementary school shows kids eating homemade yogurt, shepherd’s pie, and broccoli. Alice the lunch lady tells Rhonda from the school district that as long as they have the extra help, it’s fine — the food is good, the kids are eating it. But once that extra help goes away, they may not get lunch done on time. Jamie’s going to have to raise some money for training so that the crew can get the new lunches done.

Jamie takes his high school crew of six out to a farm to see where real food comes from. He also needs to discuss his fundraising idea with them — have them cook a gala dinner to raise the $80,000 they need to train all of the school cooks. The kids are nervous but game, and several are willing to speak to the VIP guests as well.

The next day, Jamie’s cooking for his first day at the high school. They’re giving him one line, and he’s making a noodles-and-veg stir fry and some gorgeous teriyaki chicken. But at this school, the head cook is in Jamie’s corner, which makes a world of difference in the kitchen environment. His team gives out samples of the stir-fry, and the students seem to like it.

But wait, problem! Rhonda is checking Jamie’s line, and there’s not enough vegetable represented. Each meal requires a cup and a fourth of “fruit and vegetable” (and don’t get me started on lumping those two things together), and the veggies in the stir-fry combined with a small cup of dessert fruit aren’t enough. So french fries are being added to Jamie’s line, and he’s insulted and upset. Because a breaded piece of chicken on a bun with french fries has enough veg, while a seven-veg stir fry and fresh fruit isn’t enough. With regulations like these, is it any wonder obesity is on the rise?

Jamie goes around the lunchroom and takes french fries away from the students, and shuts down the fry line. Which as you can imagine, doesn’t go over that well. But it’s a start.

Onward to the VIP dinner. The gang takes over Frankie D’s Italian Chophouse, which looks like a nice little restaurant. Jamie explains the importance of the VIPs (who will include the kids’ parents) and local business owners, journalists, and “local movers and shakers” (I wonder if DJ Rod was invited). The meal will involve a salad, pork loin, roasted pumpkin risotto and a berry tart. With three hours to prep, said prep being done by untrained teens. Good luck, guys.

The football player, Rob, has to leave for a walk-through of tomorrow’s game. Which leaves tiny Brian all on his own with the risotto prep. But the girls are rocking it, and Rob comes back and gets back onto the line. Everyone’s hustling, and Jamie gets the phone call that a senator who thought he couldn’t make it is now going to be there. All Jamie can smell is burning, and he’s getting nervous.

The kids are 15 minutes out, learning how to plate up. Brittany is cooling off in the freezer. Tiny Brian is exhausted. But the kids regroup, dig down deep, and the plates all leave looking delicious. The guests are loving the food, one even saying she’s never had a famous chef cook for her before. Jamie can’t wait to tell them all that it’s his high school brigade.

He heads out to the front of the house and tells the crowd that he’s lied to them; he hasn’t actually cooked a thing. He brings out the kids, and they get a hearty round of applause. They all get a chance to speak to the VIPs. Ryan gives a beautiful speech about how Jamie’s program has already helped him more than any anger management class. Brittany drops the bombshell that she has spots on her liver, and may only have seven years to live.

Back in the kitchen, the kids get to meet with their senator, who tells them that this is the start of something great for not only West Virginia, but for America. Everyone goes out and gets hugs from their families. Jamie still hasn’t raised all of the money he needs, but it’s a good start.

Next week: Jamie bets DJ Sourpuss Rod that he can teach a thousand people how to cook in one week. We see shots of him teaching in a park! Teaching in the street! Teaching in a steel mill! And all the while, Rod voices over that Jamie will never succeed in any of his endeavors. Fingers crossed that Jamie can make Rod eat his words (and hopefully be one of the thousand who learns to cook).