By JAMES E. CASTO
For The State Journal
HUNTINGTON – When British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver came to Huntington to tape his "Food Revolution" television series in 2009, he opened a downtown storefront kitchen on 3rd Avenue across from Pullman Square. The kitchen provided a setting for Oliver to pitch his message aimed at promoting healthier eating habits.
With Oliver's departure at the conclusion of the show's taping, "Jamie's Kitchen" became "Huntington's Kitchen," with Ebenezer Medical Outreach. in charge of operating it. With the change, Cabell Huntington Hospital came forward to provide the financial support needed to keep the kitchen open.
Huntington's Kitchen is a community food center where people can learn to cook. It is a fully equipped kitchen where up to 12 people can learn to cook at one time. There are daily cooking classes and demonstrations on site. The kitchen offers advice on recipes, ingredients, shopping, nutrition and local and seasonal food. Individuals are also taught how to make good, simple meals on a tight budget.
Now, Cabell Huntington is taking over the kitchen's operation. The change is effective Aug. 1.
Yvonne Jones, executive director of Ebenezer, said stepping away from its role at the kitchen will enable the organization to concentrate on its primary mission of improving health care for the community's disadvantaged.
Doug Sheils, director of strategic marketing at Cabell Huntington, praised Ebenezer's decision to take over the kitchen when Oliver left, calling it "an enormous leap of faith for the group." And he also credited Ebenezer with doing a good job in operating the kitchen and helping make a difference in nutrition education and health in the community.
Sheils said the hospital will retain the kitchen's location, name and mission but envisions a number of changes. Plans call for more classes on medical issues such as high blood pressure, celiac disease and diabetes, along with special classes aimed at seniors.
He said the hospital hopes to establish a partnership with the Cabell County school system to address the problem of childhood obesity. Also in the works are a number of fun events, such as a cooking challenge featuring celebrity chefs.