Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's Big Rig Mobile Kitchen Classroom rolled into the Madera District Fair Thursday in hopes of sparking a revolution of healthy eating and cooking.
Oliver, who is known for his cookbooks, restaurants and television specials, has been taking his message of healthy eating on the road.
Over the next 40 weeks, his custom-built trailer will tour the state from San Diego to Sacramento providing cooking demonstrations, food education and free recipes. The big rig will be in Fresno Oct. 10-13 for the Big Fresno Fair. He is expected to make appearances in Los Angeles and Sacramento.
Parked between the livestock arena and a monster truck, the big rig was slow to attract a crowd during its first Valley appearance. Among the first to tour the big rig's mobile kitchen were Heather and Scott Evans of Madera.
"We love the show and he is so cool," Heather Evans said. "And we like the fact that he is teaching people how to eat healthy."
The couple plan to sign up for free cooking classes that will be part of another big rig visit to the Valley in October and November.
Heather Evans said she would like to find a way to get her husband to eat more vegetables that doesn't involve lots of bacon.
Scott Bottemer, operations manager for the mobile kitchen classroom, said the goal of the project is to help people make better choices about what foods to eat and how to cook healthier meals.
And that doesn't mean eating like you are on a diet.
"It is more like cooking from scratch," he said. "It is about using fresh ingredients when you can, eating proper portions and limiting foods that are not healthy for you."
As part of the tour, chef Henry Perez was going to prepare four fresh salad recipes during the food demonstration.
Health advocates support Oliver's efforts, saying the message hits home in the central San Joaquin Valley, where obesity rates are high. Studies have shown Valleywide, more than 40% of children in 5th, 7th and 9th grades are overweight or obese.
The big rig's California tour was made possible by a partnership between the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and The California Endowment, a private statewide health foundation.
"Eating healthy and understanding how to cook healthy and the role that fresh fruits and vegetables play in a healthy diet is critical to us," said Sarah Reyes, a program manager for the endowment.
The Madera District Fair runs through Saturday at 1850 West Cleveland Ave., Madera.
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