Cafe and Culinary Academy Taking Raw Food to Mainstream Audiences
As an avid eater, I've always been a little skeptical about the raw food movement. After all, can a life without bubbly blackened pizza crusts, caramelized onions, or the joys of a good burger really be called a life at all? And yet there is something appealing about raw, living food. Simple, minimally processed fresh ingredients, presented beautifully, can make for some of the best meals you'll ever have. As I noted in my post on low carbon cooking techniques, not cooking is about as energy efficient as you can get, and some advocates claim that raw food can even 'cure' diabetes. But just as Meat-Free Mondays may be a good first step for reducing your impact, maybe we all need to consider eating a little more raw as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Now an innovative cafe, culinary institute and shop in Oklahoma City is aiming to put raw, or living, foods at the center of our culinary consciousness. But can they win over us doubters?
From the look and feel of its website, 105 Degrees raw food cafe and culinary center is clearly aiming high, and it is aiming to shed the crunchy wheat germ image that raw food has been lumbered with for so long:
We intend to bring raw food cuisine to the mainstream, enhancing the health, level of dining, and career opportunities available in our local and worldwide community. The 105degrees Academy will draw students from around the globe, seeking to enter the fast-growing field of health-supportive culinary arts. We are currently accepting enrollment in our chef certification courses.
At 105degrees, we are committed to helping the environment. In a setting specifically built from the ground up with sustainability and the preparation of raw cuisine in mind, it will provide a warm and modern environment, ideal for the innovative menu created by Chef Matthew. In addition to building "green", we have worked aggressively to build relationships with local, organic growers of the fresh ingredients that comprise our cuisine. The fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes, will be locally and organically grown, whenever possible. Protecting the environment has been at the top of our list, in selecting everything from staff uniforms, to cleaning agents, to shop inventory.
I am delighted to see a raw food institution that seems as focused on flavor and quality as it is on health or dogma. The more raw food can present itself as a viable culinary tradition, and develop the techniques and processes for creating delicious, unique food, the more doubters like me will be won over. I'm unlikely to give up pizza or bacon sandwiches any time soon - but I am totally open to trying anything delicious you put in front of my face. If it's also good for me and the planet, then all the better.