Fast Company

$100,000 to the Naked Chef: Jamie Oliver Named Sole TED Prize Winner

Jamie oliver

There he is, Mr. TED Prize 2010 (he's the one on the right). Yes, it's British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef, the man who brought his brand of sexy, slightly-messy, all-natural cooking to television--and his own sexy, slightly-messy, all-natural chef-ness for women everywhere to fantasize about greasing up with extra virgin olive oil.

Don't worry, he's not gonna blow the $100k on a 2-ton chunk of pink Himalayan salt. For the last few years, Oliver's been on the front lines of fighting childhood obesity. For the last year he's been battling state school lunches in the U.K., pressuring them to spend $1 billion to overhaul the program, and penned a lovely manifesto for schools. He founded the Fifteen Foundation, a program that trains at-risk 18-to-24 year-olds in the culinary arts, and a new show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution USA, where he hopes to bring the same level of reform to U.S. schools, will debut on ABC next year.

And maybe he'll do it like this?

While we can't say that Oliver's work falls neatly under TED's rubric of Technology, Entertainment or Design (okay, maybe Entertainment?) this does prove that our global obsession with food, farms and nutrition has reached some kind of cultural tipping point. Speakers like Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, and Carolyn Steel have been appearing at TED with greater frequency, but none of the TED Prizes have so directly addressed the topic. A nice choice for their first foodie, I suppose, but it also seems to be banking on Oliver's star power: No love for Alice Waters and her Edible Schoolyard? Or what about that Michael Pollan?

And speaking of, why only one winner this year, you may ask? As explained below the Oliver announcement, it's become too exhausting for the TED team to manage the implementation of the 15 TED Prizes (3 per year x 5 years) already in progress. From now on they're awarding one "genius"-style grand prize of $100,000 to a single winner. Oliver will present the fruits of his winnings at TED in February.

[TED]

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4 Comments

  • Toni Hobbs

    Jamie, I feel you are so up to date & bringing change where it's needed. I pray you can help my son get better eating habits from school because they are teaching him for ex. nochos & processed cheese sauce is okay for lunch. To be honest even if they served fruit or raw vegetables, how good is that with all the added chemicals & preservatives? I just want whats best for my son & others especially where they are required to be there five days a week all day. Thanks for your help! Mom

  • Chris Reich

    With much of the world's population in starvation and war, it makes sense to bring as much attention as possible to this guy, right? His global contribution is immeasurable. Perhaps Knighthood is next?

    This goes right to the heart of exactly what is wrong with western culture, taste and most important, thinking. Surely Mr. Oliver puts on an amusing bit, but does he do anything of lasting value?

    Surely fun is a vital component of a vibrant culture but I think we should be more thoughtful in our approach to what we honor.

    Chris Reich
    www.TeachU.com

  • Paul Roe

    Jamie is an entertainer, no doubt. I think, however, that his current enterprises count under the "D" in TED. He's addressing the design of the systems by which learning children are fed, and by which many people who've failed, or been failed by, education systems are exposed to opportunities to expand their skill sets. Thoughts?