Cuddly Brit chef (and dating expert) Jamie Oliver has been camping out in Huntington, West Virginia for just about two months now, teaching the citizens of "America's fattest city" how to live healthy lives for a new television series. Though Oliver's goals of teaching Americans about eating well have earned positive (and frankly, gushy) reviews in the mainstream press (example: the Oliver love-in spanning many pages last month), the West Virginians weren't always as welcoming. Last month, a band of aggrieved locals coalesced into an angry mob, prepared to run the Naked Chef out of town with pitchforks and fighting words. As a local radio DJ pronounced: “No one wants him to be here pointing out our faults and as near as I can figure, that’s all he’s here to do.”
But the mountain people can breathe easy again. Oliver leaves on Saturday. But not before he gets a party in his honor!
For the Golden Boy's final weekend in West Virginia, he will be honored with a real country celebration, with a street food fair in the town square and a free concert from twangy supergroup Rascal Flatts in the Keith-Albee theater. As Oliver hands over the keys to his kitchen inside Huntington's Outreach Center to a local charity, he also leaves West Virginia as a de facto citizen. After a "lengthy dinner" with the chef State senator Bob Plymale named Oliver an “Honorary West Virginian” declaring that he believed Jamie to be “sincere in his efforts.” Southern hospitality at work!
Below, a grainy exit interview Jamie gave to a local news network: "I'm always going to come back to Huntington, but you know, I come from England. It needs to live on once I've gone, really."