Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Saturday, 4 October 2008 12:22 UK

Oliver's show cooks up town storm

Jamie Oliver
Celebrity Jamie Oliver has long campaigned for healthy eating

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has cooked up a storm in a South Yorkshire town where his latest TV show is accused of portraying residents as "thickos".

The backlash follows the first episode of his new programme, Jamie's Ministry of Food, in which he teaches cookery to eight families in Rotherham.

One councillor, John Gilding, said the show gave the impression all the town's residents lived on "doner kebabs".

Channel Four said the first episode deliberately focused on poorer people.

The 33-year-old chef targeted the town after mothers were pictured shoving burgers and chips through school railings in protest at menus suggested in a previous series, Jamie's School Dinners.

It looks like he thinks we're all as thick as planks and that we live on doner kebabs
Councillor John Gilding

The first episode of his new programme featured an unemployed mother-of-two who fed her children solely on fast food takeaways, and a woman who regularly eats 10 packets of crisps for dinner.

His idea is to teach "pyramid cooking", where each of the eight people he trains will teach two of their friends, and they will do the same until 250,000 have been taught to cook.

Mr Gilding, leader of the town's Conservative group, said the first episode in the four-part series gave the wrong impression about Rotherham.

"It looks like he thinks we're all as thick as planks and that we live on doner kebabs. People are enraged about it," he said.

"I agree that he has a point with regards to school dinners and it is good he is trying to educate people, but Rotherham people are not 'numpties'."

Channel Four has defended the programme and said the first episode focused on poorer people because poverty affected what people cooked and ate.

It said future episodes would focus on getting men to cook and encouraging businesses to help staff lead healthier lifestyles.

Oliver's new school meals action
23 May 08 |  Mid Wales

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