In the Raw

If you are an aspiring culinary student, you might want to consider this budding culinary trend before you fire up your stove: uncooked foods. Once viewed as an extreme form of vegetarianism, raw cuisine is making a name for itself in the culinary mainstream via gourmet restaurants, food festivals, and popular cookbooks.

Raw Deal

Practitioners of the "raw-food movement" believe that cooking depletes nutrition from food. The rationale is that heat destroys key nutrients and enzymes in ingredients. In lieu of ovens and stoves, raw food chefs prepare their meals with juicers, blenders, food processors, high-tech slicers, and dehydrators.

Raw Talent

The "raw food" or "living food" movement first gathered steam through websites, natural food stores, unassuming cafes, trade shows, and through a handful of celebrity endorsements (think Alicia Silverstone and Woody Harrelson).

But now the trend is exploding in the culinary world too. Many 'raw food' restaurants are opening around the country, and several new raw cookbooks endorsed by top chefs are ready for market. For example:

  • Charlie Trotter, renowned Chicago chef, is working with veteran chef Roxanne Klein on a raw food book due out sometime within the year.
  • Klein also owns the first raw-food restaurant to successfully embrace a fine-dining approach. Roxanne's in Larkspur, CA features artistic culinary presentations, an environmentally-friendly atmosphere, and an impressive list of organic wines for an average of $50 per person.

As a chef, you too will be able to push the culinary envelope with creations like:

  • Vegetable lasagna with mandolin-thin zucchini used as the "pasta".
  • Marinated shiitake sandwich made with thin layers of dehydrated soft crackers
  • Squash shaved into linguine shape, dressed in curry and topped with vegetables.

As a raw food chef, you may not stand over a hot stove, but you will get to use your imagination and culinary expertise to impress culinary audiences who may want a little adventure.