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Jamie Oliver's 'Food Revolution' finale has star power

June 25, 2011 |  9:29 am

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Jamie Oliver persevered against the odds: disappointing ratings, disinterested school board members and a superintendent who blocked him from the Los Angeles school cafeterias. But his "Food Revolution" season in Los Angeles comes to an end on an up note.

Oliver had pitted himself against Supt. Ramon Cortines, giving the early episodes a David-versus-Goliath feel, but in Friday night's episode Oliver meets with the Los Angeles Unified School District's new superintendent, John Deasy.

It turns out that Deasy is friendly to Oliver's message of school food reform. And together they use what L.A. is known for: They go on television together. On Jimmy Kimmel's late-night talk show, Deasy announces that he plans to eliminate chocolate and strawberry milk from the menus. (That's something he did, after the end of filming, at a recent school board meeting.)

The activist chef also shows up at anti-chocolate milk demonstration staged by some parents and activists. They had filled gallon jugs with sugar to represent how much added sugar a child would consume in a year by drinking two chocolate milks a day. He talks with the protesters but leaves them before they go to the school district headquarters seeking to deliver the jugs and talk to officials.

But the highlight of the episode is a cooking contest, with teams from several high school culinary classes, held in Santa Monica. Oliver enlists some of the city's top chefs, including Suzanne Tracht, Ben Ford and Seth Greenberg, to prepare students for the contest. And he gets such high-wattage judges at Michael Symons and Jonathan Waxman.

The prizes include a trip to the Culinary Institute of America in New York. It turns out that Oliver's team, four students from West Adams Prep, take the prize. Later, Oliver goes back to their school to try out one of the new recipes that the district has been working on for next year's school menu; the roasted vegetable quesadilla gets good marks from the students.

And so, the series ends, with Oliver urging viewers to get involved, take action and keep fighting the "war against obesity."

-- Mary MacVean

Photo: Jamie Oliver with high school contestants on "Food Revolution." Credit: ABC

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