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Food and passion: technologies of self transformation in Jamie’s kitchen

posted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by Lyn HarrisonLyn Harrison, Peter Kelly, Perri Campbell
Since the 1990s there has been a surge of televisual dramatisations of real-life cooking shows in industrialised countries (Versteegan 2010: 447). Through reality television cooking shows such as, MasterChef, Jamie 's Kitchen, Hell's Kitchen, viewers have encountered celebrity chefs, 'foodies', hospitality trainees, contestants, cooking competitions and customers. These shows have been understood as an indication of- and intervention into - contemporary consumption trends and as vehicles for social change. Many reality-based cooking shows have been regarded as educational, pedagogical sites that 'encourage populations to undertake surveillance of their own and others' bodies' and eating habits with messages like: 'You are what you eat!' or 'Organic is better' (Rich 2011: 3; see also Lewis 2007 and Chapter 4 in this book by Szkupinski-Quiroga, Sandlin and Redmon Wright).
In this chapter we explore the reality television programme Jamie's Kitchen as a pedagogical site which seeks to transform young people's understandings about food, work and ultimately themselves. In 2002 the high-profile celebrity chef Jamie Oliver set out to transform a group of unemployed young Londoners into the enterprising, ideal workers of twenty-first century, :flexible capitalism.1 This process of transformation was represented in the enormously successful Channel 4 TV series Jamie's Kitchen.2 In Australia, we viewed the series, as it was screened on Channel 10 over five weeks during July and August 2003.


Title of book

Food pedagogies


Critical food studies

Chapter number



95 - 111



Place of publication

Surrey, Eng.





Publication classification

B Book chapter; B1.1 Book chapter

Copyright notice

2015, The Authors




E Swan, R Flowers