Updated: Nov 16, 2021
Some of our volunteers were invited to a very special dinner with none other than Jamie Oliver a few weeks back. He wanted to shine a spotlight on the local community groups who helped on the front line during the pandemic. Here, our wonderful volunteer Gill shares her experience of the dinner. And keep scrolling for a link to re-watch the show.
Jamie Oliver’s passion for food goes beyond his cooking personality. This was evident to a group of us from the Bounds Green Foodbank when we were invited to his place as part of his new TV show, bringing people ‘Together’ after the lengthy lockdowns we’ve all suffered the past year and more.
It was the briefest shout-out from him on Instagram that prompted me and the team to apply. The message was for those working on the front line during Covid to submit an application. This felt like a prime opportunity to get our food bank out there on national TV – and raise its profile. I imagine the competition was pretty stiff, but we were overjoyed to find out our application was successful. I’m a Jamie fan and it meant so much to me to be invited along with the team.
During the course of the meal, two things really stood out about Jamie for me.
He is so passionate about ingredients. Deeply passionate. I could have talked to him for hours about the merits of Basil v Rosemary, how to cook the best potatoes and buy affordable fish. He loves fresh produce, especially the homegrown kind, which meant lots of conversation around favourite veg, fruit, herbs and even how to
use flowers in food.
Gil and Jamie on the day.
He also truly understands that good food is a luxury many can’t afford and it’s obvious that this bothers him.
On the day we travelled together, conversations about the Food Bank: our suppliers, donors, and logistics was all a good distraction. We were anxious to meet the man behind the apron, and all felt a bit camera shy but there was no need to be. The crew were welcoming, and along with Jamie, they went the whole nine yards to make the occasion truly memorable. And it was – see pic of the smiling gang.
Our wonderful Volunteers with Jamie.
The meal itself of course was a delight: lots of veg, plenty of salad, a delicious side of salmon for main course and then of course the pudding – summer pudding with the intriguing mix of strawberries and cucumber inside. You can see us all eating away if you watch the replay on 4oD, Jamie Oliver: Together, which aired on the 20 Sept.
Our volunteers and a couple of the dishes from the show, Roasted Tomatoes and Wimbledon Summer Fruit Pudding.
It’s essentially a cooking show, so we were encouraged to relish and comment on the food in the filming, no problem there. Then the cameras got switched off and seats pushed back and we heard some of Jamie’s thoughts on food insecurity. We recalled his school dinners show – the infamous turkey twizzlers; his programmes to encourage cooking from scratch; and his broader strategy around poor quality goods and obesity. He loves the idea of helping people make the best out of ingredients; and hates that people have to struggle to make ends meet and feed their household. He also listened intently to what we in the Food Bank are trying to achieve and commended our community for all our efforts in such a short space of time.
It was such a memorable day for me and the other volunteers, an opportunity I never expected to get when I started volunteering with the Food Bank. Thank you to Jamie and his TV crew. Thanks to all my Food Bank colleagues who came on the trip to meet Jamie. But really, the credit goes to all the volunteers at the Food Bank, who made it possible for us to have such a great story to tell, I know we were all so proud to tell it.