Chef and activist Jamie Oliver has won the 2010 TED Prize, joining a diverse list of past winners such as Bill Clinton, Bono, E.O. Wilson, and controversial mentor James Nachtwey. Awarded annually by nonprofit braintrust TED, the award typically goes to three exceptional individuals who each receive $100,000 and “One Wish to Change the World,” but due to a dearth of remarkable people or, more likely, prize money, TED has named Oliver the first solo winner. “After discussion with various wise souls in the community, we are moving to a new format of one new winner every year,” wrote TED curator Chris Anderson and TED Prize director Amy Novogratz in an e-mail announcing the 2010 winner. “At the same time we’re increasing our capacity to facilitate your amazing efforts on the existing [TED Prize Projects].”
You may know 34-year-old Oliver as “the naked chef,” the rather misleading name of the television show that first propelled him—fully clothed but enamored with stripped-down fare—into the public eye in 1999. Today, after helming a dozen TV series and selling 24 million copies of his ten books (translated into 29 languages), he’s developed into a raffish British amalgam of Rachael Ray and Alice Waters, one day sharing a recipe for a “killer chocolate mousse” and the next crusading for healthier school lunches. Anderson and Novogratz describe Oliver as “the chef who’s transforming the way we feed our children,” noting that his “School Dinners/Feed Me Better” campaign pressured the U.K. government to invest $1 billion to overhaul school lunches. Oliver also founded the Fifteen Foundation, a social enterprise and chef apprenticeship for 18- to 24-year-olds. Originated in London, the program has been replicated in Amsterdam, Cornwall, and Melbourne. Next stop: America. The new TV series Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution USA is slated to debut in 2010 on ABC. Meanwhile, Oliver will reveal his TED Prize wish on February 10 during the the 2010 TED Conference, which takes place February 9-13 in Long Beach, California.