The raw food enthusiasts that have crossed my path in the past were just too evangelical for me to take in. I had respect for the food they prepared, it was interesting and tasty, but not compelling enough for me to aspire to in my own kitchen. I was willing to add a wheatgrass juice or seaweed salad to my diet, but not give up perfectly roasted anything.
Beyond vegan and vegetarian lifestyles, raw food devotees consume "living" food; vegetables, fruits, nuts, sprouted grains and legumes, and super foods like spirulina, seaweed and goji berries, never heated above 115 F. The simple health benefit in eating raw is the intact delivery of nutrients and enzymes to the body that are easily broken down in digestion and used for energy. Energy food, nutrient dense food, healing food were all descriptions I had heard or read. Then I met Chris Slawson a graduate of ASU and chef-owner of Christopher's Kitchen in Palm Beach Gardens Florida, who added the descriptive sexy food to the list. Now that caught my attention.
After the jump: eating raw and a recipe for chilled coconut curry thai soup.
Slawson grew up in Oregon and Hawaii, in a creative and health conscious environment. You know, the kid whose vegetarian family refrigerator housed the weird stuff. After graduating from ASU with a degree in business, Slawson moved to California, worked in commercial real estate and surfed. He switched to a raw food lifestyle "cold turkey" after experiencing the benefit of increased energy from trying raw meals. "Volunteering" ( aka work with no pay) at Terra Bella (now closed) in Redondo Beach he began to recognize making this food is what he loved.
Slawson quit real estate and continued to study the science of food and its effect on the body. He learned his "un-cooking" craft at Euphoria Loves Rawvolution in Santa Monica and Pure Food and Wine with Matthew Kenney in NYC. Moving to Florida to be close to family, he worked as a personal chef and caterer specializing with a raw menu. Encouraged and inspired by client feed- back, in January he opened Christopher's Kitchen.
On my recent visit, the restaurant was filled not only with athletic body types but families with kids eagerly chowing down on raw food tacos and pizza. For first time raw food customers, Christopher recommends starting off with juices and salads. His favorite ingredients are locally grown fresh herbs and a wide variety of sprouts.
His focus on ingredients use, integrity of the dish, eye appealing presentations and creation of outstanding flavor combinations make the diner forget they are eating something out of their norm. Bottom line, food has to be delicious, and our meal of sprouted flax chips and guac, sea vegetable salad, followed by a sampling of desserts made with imported Bali chocolate, was.
Juicers, commercial blenders, food processors and dehydrators make up the equipment in a raw food kitchen. Preparing the food is labor intensive and sourcing organic and superfood ingredients expensive. Christopher notes, "It is a challenge to be creative with food and not use the element of heat."
What does he say to people who claim vegan, vegetarian and raw food enthusiasts are full of it? "Like red states and blue states in politics, there are different worlds of cooking. It is hard to convince someone who is passionate about how they cook and the ingredients they believe in otherwise." was his calm reply.
Chilled Coconut Curry Thai Soup
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In a vita mix blender
All organic ingredients
¼ cup fresh lemon
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoon tamari
1 cup fresh carrot juice
1 cup chopped tomato
3 cups coconut water
2 cups coconut meat
7 pitted medjool dates
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 small handful fresh cilantro
3 inch piece fresh ginger
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
1 tablespoon flax oil
1/4 cup unrefined olive oil
pink himalayan sea salt to taste
Blend in a vita mix until smooth
Garnish with fresh red pepper, cilantro, avocado, black sesame seeds and dulse powder