Along the sleek steel counters, you’re more likely to spot heaps of freshly pared fruit and vegetables than a stack of dirty dishes. Jars of herbs, spices, nuts and seeds sit neatly organized on a shelf. And against the wall, a dehydrator stands uniformly at attention.

The facility is the nation’s first raw foods academy.

Kenney describes this type of cooking process as using
“live” food. That is, using raw plant-based ingredients that are
organic, seasonal and local, while applying classic culinary techniques.
Additionally, Kenney said the foods are not pasteurized, processed or
cooked above 118 degrees, keeping all the essential vitamins and enzymes
remain intact.

make the work easier, he noted that several key appliances are employed.
Traditional items like the microwave oven and stove are swapped out for
a smoking gun, blender and juicer.

“We don’t use anything that is opened with a can opener or prepared,” he added.

class time, you’ll find that might mean goodbye to junk food,
drive-through restaurants and sodas. You can join those seeking to
expand their culinary repertoire with an emphasis on new flavors and
visual presentation.

Diverse course work

Raw vegan options don’t have to be boring. Plenty of delicious recipes can be prepared, thanks to intensive, four-week courses like Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine and Advanced Raw Cuisine.

introductory course concentrates on knife skills; preparing sauces,
flours, bases and dressings; understanding spices; fermenting and
sprouting; balancing flavors, tastes and textures; preparing pastries; plating and finishing a dish; and recipe writing.

first class is a requirement to enroll in the advanced program, which
focuses more specifically on the inner workings of a professional
kitchen. Some of the topics include menu planning, textural diversity
and color coordination, as well as working in the cafe.

Students from more than 30 countries have flocked to Oklahoma City to study these techniques.

across the Atlantic, South African restaurateur Antonia Deluca
journeyed to Kenney’s kitchen after reading several of his cookbooks.
The chef and owner of a Johannesburg vegetarian eatery, Deluca wanted to
add a formal raw chef certification to her résumé.

“There is a shift in taking care of our bodies,” she said. “(The challenge) is to make it taste and look good.”

Rob Crabtree from Jacksonville, Fla., does not have a culinary
background, but was intrigued by the raw movement. He liked the idea of
eating a healthier diet.

have always had a passion for food and exploring,” he said. “I am
thinking about opening my own business and getting involved in raw

Pure flavor

That’s where culinary
inventiveness comes to play. Students are taught about important
pairings using a flavor bible. Recipes are further enhanced through
unique, creative combinations that draw upon diverse fare, including
Mexican and Italian.

Take Kenney’s wild
mushroom tamale or popular heirloom tomato lasagna, for example. Finish
it with dessert. The pistachio nougatine is a complex blend of rose
water, citrus marmalade and dark chocolate. On the lighter side, opt for
a smoothie, which can be whipped up in a host of fruity flavors.

students baked up their version of fig bars. They were a delicious mix
of oat flour, maple syrup, raw almond butter, date paste, vanilla
extract and purified water for the dough, while the filling was a simple
paste of fig and raw agave syrup.

felt that the message of conscious eating is not only valuable, but
critical for people to eat food in its natural state. She said initially
it may require some alteration in shopping habits and meal preparation.
Yet, the result is a healthy addiction that can’t be given up.

palate is so warped and our stomachs are so stretched,” she said. “Once
[raw foods] get more momentum, it can change the world and touch the

  • or