Raw food has come to mean much more than a diet of salad and carrot sticks. Over the last decade or so, chefs like Matthew Kenney have transformed restaurant-goer’s ideas about what it means to eat raw with their inventive and delicious raw dishes. Now Kenney is introducing a whole new generation to the methods of gourmet raw food, from the methods of raw sauce-making to the use of dehydrator ovens.Â The newly-opened Matthew Kenney Culinary School in Santa Monica is teaching students to turn fresh, uncooked foods into delicacies you wouldn’t imagine aren’t traditionally cooked! Students are flocking from across the globe to come and learn these rare and health-giving methods from Matthew, taking them home to share new raw methods with a whole new dining crowd.
We asked the school to let us a behind-the-scenes at this month’s Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine class, giving us a look at what these chefs are up to and what motivated students from such far-flung locations as Brazil and Istanbul to come and learn the raw way.Â What we discovered is a passion for ‘living foods’ among these chefs that will certainly translate well into their restaurants at home and a recipe that surprise us all!
The ChalkboarD: What motivated you to attend the culinary school and take your raw food skills to the next level?
Erin, Chicago: Changing the way people understand their health is my passion. My parents died of unrelated cancers 3 weeks apart at 52 years of age. Disease and illness have become an epidemic, and being a person that cares deeply about everyoneâ€™s personal health issues, I feel that if I can start even a â€śseedlingâ€ť of change in someoneâ€™s thinking on food and health, then the world can change one person at a time. I feel that we all have to do our part. Hippocrates said it best â€śLet they food by they medicine, and thy medicine thy foodâ€ť.
Tc:If you were trying to convince someone of the raw dietary philosophy, what would you make for them?
Erin, Chicago: Starting with desserts is an easy way to awaken a junk food/SAD food diet person to raw foods! As for main meals, I would choose Mexican raw tacos, since it is an impressive and tasty dish that always gets attention.
Ayelin, Istanbul, Turkey:Wild Mushroom Tacos! Also, my favorite salad wrap using nori sheets, avocado, sprouts, hummus and a spirulina dressing.
TC: Where do you plan on using the skills you’re learning here at the Academy?
Bruno de Vie, France:I currently own a raw catering company. Who knowsâ€¦ I might be the next world famous raw chef!
TC:What are your go-to raw meals and snacks when you are super busy?
Jana, Czech Republic/Australia:Fresh pressed juice, fruit, raw bars, raw chocolate and nuts. My favorite green juice combination is kale, parsley, spinach, dandelion, lemon, celery and apple.
Juliana, Brazil:Coconut water with chlorophyll, kale salads and of course whole fruit.Â My favorite juice blend is kale, apple, celery, and lime.
TC:Â What is the best thing you have ever made?
Teresa, Southern California: My raw vegan Thai pizza. But the chocolate chip cookies we made today were absolutely amazing!
Raw Chocolate Chip Cookies from Matthew Kenney Culinary School
2 1/2 cups fine cashew flour
1 1/3 cups oat flour, sifted
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup raw chocolate chips or cacao nibs
In order to make cashew flour, blend 1 cup of cashews on high in a blendtec or vita-mix. Blending cashews causes them to become soft and buttery very quickly, so be careful to not blend too much at once or blend on a slow speed.
Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips in a bowl by hand. Stir in 1 cup of chips. Form into 3-inch cookies and press a few chips into the tops of the cookies. Dehydrate overnight at 118 degrees.