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Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” Sparks Enthusiastic Response in New Canaan

food revolution

Two hundred and thirty-eight years later, another Brit is provoking a revolution in Connecticut!  British chef and Food Network star Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is coming to New Canaan and three other regional locations (Branford, Meriden, Middletown).  Designed to educate children about healthy eating, Food Revolution New Canaan is taking place on Saturday, May 17, and has been enthusiastically received by New Canaan residents!  Three hundred and fifty kids have pre-registered (registration is now closed) to take part in the event.

Starting at a pop-up park off Elm Street, pre-registered children and teens will pick up a “Bravery Passport” that they will take on their walking journey to participating eateries such as Elm, Fjord Fisheries, 109 Cheese and Wine, Chef Louis, South End and Station Eats. At each stop, kids will be treated to a bite of food that they may have previously snubbed – stinky cheese, calamari, a sip of bright green juice – with the hope that they will open their minds and palates to new and healthy foods.  At each stop, their “Bravery Passports” are stamped, and at the end of the “food trail” children are registered for a prize drawing.

Bringing this concept to New Canaan, are two New Canaan residents – Silvia Baldini – Founder/Chef Strawberry & Sage and Rachel Lampen, owner of RLPR Ltd.  As the 2014 Food Ambassadors for our area, they are responsible for coordinating this event.  We had a chance to catch up with Rachel Lampen and talk to her about Food Revolution, here’s what she had to say!

Fairfieldista:  Why did you want to bring Food Revolution to Fairfield County?
Lampen: Jamie Oliver is a British Chef and TV Personality who has spent years educating people about nutrition and health – especially children. His passion and simple, cost effective recipes have brought families together over the dinner table and he has addressed issues such as school dinners and the pink slime found in fast food burgers. I was surprised that out of the whole of Connecticut, only four towns were actually doing something to support this. As a Brit abroad, I love the Americans community spirit, pot luck parties and their generous, warm hospitality.  I want to show Fairfield County, how easy it is to stage an event or block party for a good cause.
Fairfieldista: Do you have children? Were they picky eaters?  
Lampen: I have one son who has just turned nine years of age. He wasn’t actually a picky eater but quite the opposite which is why I hope to spark some ‘bravery’ in some of the more fussy eaters. We were fortunate enough to travel, visit restaurants and expose him to many different foods but the one thing that resonated was the Kids TV Show ‘Yo Gabba Gabba’s’ saying: “Try it you may like it”. It was this simple catchphrase that enabled him to try the tiniest of tastes and if he liked it great but if not that’s totally OK. I know I am fortunate because he has no allergies but I feel if you bring a child up surrounded by people who love food and cooking it can be infectious!
Fairfieldista: How will this event inspire kids to become more open to trying new foods?
Lampen: Having FUN and not putting pressures on the kids. First off the Bravery Passport sounds intriguing, the food trail will be lots of fun with foods like stinky cheese, calamari and bright green smoothies to taste. I am hoping that friends will get together and encourage one another to try something. Also it is important to stress that EVERY child gets a Bravery Certificate, so if they really can’t manage a teeny taste then that’s OK. I want the whole thing to be a celebration of food and because the kids are rushing along to try new things – they won’t even realize they are learning so much along the way. The restaurants and food producers have been amazing, as is the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce. If I get one child walking away thinking “I thought I didn’t like that, but I do!” or “I am actually quite an adventurous eater” then I will be thrilled.
Fairfieldista: What age groups will this event appeal to?
Lampen: I was going to put an age limit on it but decided not to – all kids should be able to enjoy this. Instead I thought it was fairer and simpler to limit the number of passports to 150, to create a buzz and allow the restaurants to plan ahead.
Fairfieldista: What can families expect to experience at Food Revolution?  What’s the most unusual food they will be asked to try?
Lampen: A wonderful family experience where parents can be truly proud of their kids. Plus, the parents can explore and see what a beautiful town New Canaan is.  I think it will bond families and will be a real memory to treasure, especially if the children had a history of issues surrounding food. I’m not sure I should divulge the most unusual food but there is a French restaurant which may feature a classic ‘dish’ which most children wouldn’t dream of trying.
Fairfieldista: What do you hope kids and families take away from this event?
Lampen: Knowledge, and hopefully igniting a passion for food within the kids and parents. I have been baking in the kitchen with my son since he was tiny, but I understand that’s not possible for everyone so this is about eating out together even if it is once a month. Just enjoy the day (praying for sunshine) and being together! Myself and Silvia have volunteered so much of our time to do this because we believe in it – it’s a food celebration as well as a revolution!
Learn more about Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution HERE!