I have just noticed (too late to inform my friends in Chicago) that the UK chef Jamie Oliver is doing a whirlwind tour of the states. You can read his impressions of Chicago on his site, as well as a review of Café Atlantico. Actually, he's a lot less explicit about the food there than our friend Barrett in his review.
So why do so many people love Jamie Oliver? He is so darn inarticulate that you sometimes think a village somewhere must be missing its idiot. But then he adds a personal touch or says something to the point and you realize there is an intelligence of some sort hiding behind the patter. And you remember his recipes, which range from the classics (with many good tips) to the truly original. I also like the way he gives credit where it is due: one of my favourite recipes in the Naked Chef, Chickpea and Leek Soup, is credited to a friend of his who found the recipe in an old cookbook. And lastly, there is that bubbling irrepressible charm and good humour: you just can't help smiling at his enthusiasm. You want to hate him for having it all (gorgeous wife and kids, great career, loads of money) but he makes it difficult, because he just radiates sincere good will. His restaurant, Fifteen, is connected to a charity he founded called Cheeky Chops, where unemployed young people who are interested in the food industry are given jobs and education.
So although his star is on the wane a bit in the UK (shame about those Sainsbury's adverts, Jamie) let us give a big cheer for Jamie who makes cooking original, healthy food look like a barrel of laughs!