Jamie's American Road Trip Premiere

7:30pm Saturday, February 13 on TV One

TV ONE’s new series Jamie’s Amercian Road Trip, sees Jamie Oliver embark on a culinary adventure of a lifetime – travelling around the USA, discovering what few get to experience (tonight at 7.30pm).

Oliver looks into the underbelly of American society to uncover fascinating personal stories, try real American food and meet the most interesting, but unsung chefs and food producers the country has to offer. Rather than fancy restaurants and top chefs, he’ll be meeting and learning from real cooks making honest food for working people at street stalls, off-road diners and down-to-earth local restaurants.

Along the way, he picks up delicious new recipes, experiencing tastes old and new, and learning how other cultures adapt when they come to the USA. This journey takes him to the heart of America: its people, culture, music and most importantly, its food.

“I wanted to make the ultimate American food-angled series,” Oliver explains. “We were just not interested in clichés or predictable stuff, you know, junk food and fat people – I wanted to really get under the skin of what is America, how diverse its food is, is any of it any good? We certainly got that. A lot of it was shocking and amazing and at times a little scary.

“The series covers immigration, recession, positive role models in East LA gangland, being in Louisiana just after Hurricane Gustav had hit, being in Georgia just after Obama got in, soul food, slave food, Arizona and the Navajo Indians, the original Native Americans, and their cuisine. It’s just mind-blowing really – and then there’s the scale of this place.”

Although his passion is for food, Oliver says the trip opened his eyes to the soul of the US, its history and how the many different cultures within the country came to shape its cuisine. The road trip also gave him the opportunity to sit around the table with some fascinating characters.

“American food is a melting pot,” he says. “With immigrants comes food – someone who loves food will take it wherever they end up. American food is basically a metaphor for the whole world: you could be eating the most authentic dan dan noodles from Korea; you could be eating amazing pasta from third-generation Italians; and ultimately, the biggest American food icon, the burger, is from Germany.

“What you get in America is some of the original ‘fusion food’, where you get French and Spanish and English and African influences – that’s the cornerstone of Cajun and Creole cooking.”

Oliver says he went looking for the quintessential “American food” but discovered there was no such thing. “Instead there’s a huge wealth of seriously exciting dishes.”

Missed an episode of Jamie’s American Road Trip – full episodes are available online. Go to tvnz.co.nz and click the ‘ondemand’ button.

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