Last Saturday, Oct 22, I left buzzing New York City where I had spent the previous two and a half weeks to catch a plane to the Mid West. Now you might wonder, what motivates me to leave a city like New York to move to Oklahoma City for 2 months and there is probably only one destination that can fully justify this decision: The Matthew Kenney Academy, where I am attending a two month certified raw chef training.
I have been waiting for this for a long time and have been very excited about this opportunity to abandon my own business for a couple of months and be a student again. Matthew Kenney, the founder of the academy, has a classical training in culinary arts and has published many books. I have been following his work for a while already and been making many recipes from his great book Entertaining in the Raw. Finally getting the chance to spend two months at his academy is very exciting. One week into the training, the excitement is still holding up. After arrival, I headed straight up to the Academy and met up with 4 of my co – students to check out the space and have a nice first dinner. The five of us pretty much sampled most of the menu. As starters, we had the sushi, a beautifully presented roll, with avocado sashimi artfully rolled on the outside, I only missed the outstanding black garlic soy sauce from Pure Food and Wine´s outstanding Maki Rolls! Further, we sampled the red beet carpaccio “sous vide” which was less exciting, and the Kimchee Dumplings that are absolutely outstanding. Kimchee cashew filling wrapped in black and white coconut wraps, very light, healthy and delightful!
The main courses featured signature beet gnocchi on pesto and hazelnut cream as well as fermented cashew cream filled tortellini on a cream of spinach with red pepper reduction. Both of them are a hit and every Italian would devour them with great pleasure not missing the “real” thing! The outstanding desserts included a chai sampling (with various chai spiced mousses, a ginger layered cake and ice cream), pistachio nougatine, a rich pistacchio cookie cake covered with chocolate ganache and served with a bittersweet orange marmalade and candied orange rind, and last but not least, the signature tiramisu, served with a dollop of a white chocolate cream and a very nice and light coffee foam. We were all very pleased with our first experience at the Academy and meeting the super friendly staff.
The first five days of class weren’t any less exciting. We started out making a lasagne and Matthew Kenney personally taught us some knife skills and gave a great introduction on the first day of class. After class, my coffee cravings hit (yes, I LOVE coffee and it is ok to have coffee as a raw food chef ;) , so I ordered a mocha shake, which they don’t have on the menu. After the staff was struggling with my request to get a shake with the right texture and consistency, Matthew himself went behind the bar and made me a real decadent mocha shake from fresh pressed elemental coffee, their homemade chocolate ice cream, young coconut and almond milk. So yummy, and I was really impressed and flattered by his initiative and availability. I don´t think there are many places on this planet where a celebrity chef like Matthew would take time to cater for a special request of one of his students!
Day 2: Ravioli – thinly sliced red beets, marinated and filled with e cashew terragon cream and served on a yellow bell pepper sauce. Beautiful colors and taste combination.
Day 3: Hand Tuber Nori Rolls, filled with Ginger Almond Cream, Vegetable Julienne, sprouts and bok choi, served with mango coriander chutney, exciting, since I have never rolled nori like that before, easy, beautiful to look at, light and delicious.
Afternoon was Kimchee time and we got to make our own batches of Kimchee, which I have also never done at home before. Kimchee is a fermented Korean Cabbage dish. It is spicy and laden with healthy probiotics to help cultivate that healthy intestinal flora and therefore boosting your immune system. It´s my favorite condiment!
Day 4: SMOOTHIEEEEE, my favorite favorite food. Not only did we make a delicious berry bee pollen smoothie with our own freshly blended almond milk, but we also got in hand a building block road map for creating smoothies from the different base components. That was the most exciting part for me. Up to now, I have made smoothies just by throwing things together, and they always taste great, but I never came up with a formula of component groups, add-ons and their quantities in order to create a smoothie. More exciting even, on day 5 we got to make our own smoothie by applying this base scheme and... it worked!! I made a delicious cherry choco maca smoothie, using 1,5 cups of frozen cherries, ¾ of a frozen banana, ¾ cups of almond milk, 1 Tablespoon coconut nectar, 3 teaspoons cacao nibs, 1 teaspoon bee pollen, 1 teaspoon spirulina, 1 teaspoon hemp seeds, 1 handful of fresh spinach and 1 pinch salt. Super healthy, highly nutritious and mega gooooood!!
For lunch, we made phad thai from zucchini noodles and other veggies that we enjoyed with the tamari maple candied almonds we dehydrated the previous day. Not as yummy as my usual phad thai, I still enjoyed the dish a lot, especially after mixing in some left over mango chutney from the previous day.
In the afternoon, we finally prepared Kale Chips, a simple recipe, because you essentially coat de-stemmed kale in a cheesy cashew bell pepper sauce and then dehydrate it until crispy. I just never made it myself before, and it´s SO much better of a movie snack than popcorn or potato chips (which I never eat anyways).
Day 5: Sushi
After our exciting smoothie experiments, which I have already talked about above, we “traveled” to Japan and got to roll our own sushi, made with jicama rice. Yippih, I got to use jicama again, which I learned to love so much on Bali. This potato like root vegetable is juicy and starchy at the same time and lends itself perfectly well for making a nice sticky sushi rice, besides many more raw food applications like those amazing “Jicama Fries”, we served with Burgers at the Yoga Retreat on Bali.
Since I have already made sushi so many times and know well how to roll it and make delicious rice and fillings, I wanted to challenge myself and try the avocado sashimi on the outside of the roll, just like they serve it in the restaurant. And voila, I was very pleased with my first try :)
The first week ended with making a nutritious Kale Salad to feed us through the weekend. I passed a beautiful first week, full of great recipes, amazing people and moments and delicious dinners as well as drinks at the bar of the Academy. Week two looks promising, stay tuned :-)
Looks like a fun and delicious week. I'm inspired by your creations. Your sushi with avocado sashimi on the outside looks A+. Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
All the dishes are so beautiful and look very appetizing, especially the red beet ravioli's.ReplyDelete
You are just realizing my dream as well, so enjoy your stay at the Academy! Great dishes! Some of them are actually going to be served on our raw gourmet dinners in the next couple of weeks in Budapest :) Nice to read your experience! Hope I get there once as well. All the bests!ReplyDelete
Man, that is amazing. Hopefully one day soon we will be serving raw food at the Nobel dinner. It is so beautiful, so nutritious and it is the food for the future well being of the planet.ReplyDelete
I would love to attend this academy as well.ReplyDelete
so inspiring. makes me want to run and study raw food - !ReplyDelete
Could you recommend a book for someone who wants to start going raw? thanks!ReplyDelete
HEy Theresa, I love the Cafe Gratitude books and of course all the Matthew Kenney ones. To start, maybe Any Phyo's book is quite good, or also Karen Knowler's. I also very much love Kate Magics books cause of her use of the healthy and super food ingredients. Hope that helps!Delete
hi boris, yes, that helps a lot! thank you! I just went to cafe gratitude in berkeley, not sure about the concept of ordering EVERYTHING with affirmations - but the vibe is great and the food divine.ReplyDelete
Wow, this is BEYOND! Do you already have to be a trained chef to apply for the academy or which criteria do they go for? I mean this sounds and looks so great. ^^ And I have to admit I started googling the academy instantly.. *sigh*ReplyDelete
No you don't need to have any training of any sorts. So go for it :-)ReplyDelete
Can I ask, what is the cost for a week there? Or for a month to complete a whole level? I'm looking at several raw food schools and I keep coming back to MK because of the gorgeous plating!!!ReplyDelete
You should contact them directly about it, since prices may have changed: http://matthewkenneycuisine.com/education/Delete
It's a great program!