Naked Ambition

Emeril may have his own line of sauces and seasonings (and those pleasant memories of his bombed sitcom). Ming Tsai may be filling Target's shelves with blue cookware. And Julia Child and Jacques Pepin may be able to dish out endless helpings of reheated cookbooks. But within the pantry of celebrity chefs, there is only one rock star--and he plays drums in a band, natch--and that's Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef from Food Network.

The 27-year-old star of TV shows, cookbooks and magazines has inspired the fluttering of hearts and the julienning of carrots (though probably more of the former). With his messy hair and thrift-store tees, he looks more like he should be hanging out in Deep Ellum than cooking for the prime minister of Britain. But he's been cooking for as long as he could reach the counter in his parents' restaurant, and he left school for culinary training at age 16.

Though he's famous now, his missions are still the same: prove that homemade food with fresh ingredients is faster, tastier, cheaper and more convenient than prepackaged foods and that cooking is something anyone can do with a few basic supplies. All his necessary cookware items would fit in a single drawer and cupboard--no stainless steel garlic press and lemon juicer when hands work just as well.

Oliver's latest book is Happy Days With the Naked Chef, which, in addition to his love for quick and easy meals, includes recipes for kids (he has a daughter and a second child on the way) and drink recipes for the home bar, meaning one can enjoy a sidebar drink after a day of making chocolate cookies with the kids. Talk about happy days.

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Shannon Sutlief

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