A TOTAL EXPERIENCE: MY RAW NUTS CLASS with Raw Chef Dan
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to participate in a“No Nuts” food preparation class presented by Raw Chef Dan, of Quintessence restaurant and traveling presentation fame. The experience was very interesting on several levels. (Oh, I should mention that Quintessence is my favorite restaurant)
My first surprise was Raw Chef Dan’s Center for Conscious Living space. Understand, please, that I live in New York City, and you can see all sorts of places when you go to presentations, lectures, classes, and other people’s homes. Presentation, lecture, and class spaces can range from elegant to utilitarian to plain, and, in size, from tiny to quite spacious. People’s apartments can be quite spacious, light, and airy, or, as most seem to be in Manhattan (where I had three different apartments before I opted for a place in Queens), some combination of tiny, airless, dark, and cramped. As I live and work in New York City, and have clients who live in all five boroughs in all ranges of spaces, it is always interesting to see how a raw food kitchen can be fitted into the space available.
Raw Chef Dan’s space was probably a studio apartment when he took it. It has high ceilings and one window, off the kitchen, which is at one end of the room, with the bathroom opening off it.
The kitchen is a standard one for a Manhattan apartment (I liked the arrangement of the refrigerator against the far wall next to the window, a small counter space, the sink, and the stove, which was covered over to create more counter space.) Chef Dan has extended the counter space, which provides a nice oven height space for his 9-tray Excalibur dehydrator, and storage under it, and then he has added a counter out across 3/4 of the width of the apartment, which serves as a workspace, and presentation space, and could double as a dining space, when Raw Chef Dan is not working. He has also built in wood shelves to provide more storage space.
The remaining half of the room had a couch at the far end, and was filled with 4 tightly packed rows of three folding seats each (I was in the front row – I have no idea how cramped those folks in the back were! I think there were about 16 of us, ultimately.)
Working with the high ceilings, Raw Chef Dan has built, over the rear third of the space, a “sitting height” loft, where we could see a desk with a computer, and, at one point, Raw Chef Dan sitting at the computer. (Being as our class was graced by the presence of three very relaxed and beautiful cats, I imagine that the loft is also a living space.)
This description is given for those of you who fret that you cannot accommodate the equipment many people want to have in order to create delicious raw meals.
FYI: Raw Chef Dan only used the dehydrator, a food processor, a blender (okay, it was a VitaMix), a small “personal blender”, and a knife to create all of the dishes he showed us. He actually had the dehydrator, food processor, VitaMix, and personal blender sitting in a total space of approximately 18 cubic inches. (Think you cannot accommodate the equipment now?)
Okay, enough of interior design (I’m so fascinated, because I love to see how people accommodate full lives in tiny spaces which still look comfortable – not cramped – and I’m also fascinated with boats and boat-living.)
We watched Raw Chef Dan create a soup, some crackers, pizza, marinated vegetables, a salad dressing, bread, and an apple pie. All of these dishes were created without nuts, although they did use flax seed. It was very interesting to learn how a lovely pizza or pie crust can made with butternut squash (or, as we were told, yams).
Many times, food preparation demos can be a little tedious. Not this one, though. Dan (I feel friendly toward him) spiced up the presentation with interesting anecdotes, and answered all questions with alacrity, and humor (allowing those of us who were paying attention at all times to even enjoy the questions from people who, from time to time, seemed to have their attention directed elsewhere)
At the end of the presentation, we all got to eat the dishes Dan had prepared before us (of course, just as they do in TV food prep presentations, Dan had previously dehydrated the bread, crackers, a pizza crust, and a pie crust). The pizza was fabulous (I’ve eaten the pizza at Quintessence, but this was better – probably because I had watched it being made), and the apple pie was amazing (I want to make one this week). The best thing about all this food was that it did comply, for the most part, with food-combining rules, for the most part, and so, even after I had eaten some of everything, I did not get that discomforting feeling that you can get when you go to a raw restaurant and want to eat some of everything and casually disregard everything you know about what goes with what.
If you ever have a chance to take one of Raw Chef Dan’s classes, do so. Just do it. Find the way. (I took off a day from work to take this class, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!) Dan is very personable, and fun. He is also very knowledgeable about the current trends and recent discoveries in raw food nutrition, and, although he does not claim to be a nutritionist, was willing to answer all sorts of questions about diet approaches, either by demurring (where it seemed that people were looking for a specific nutrition stance from him), or by sharing what he has learned.
To tell you the unvarnished truth, this has been one of the two most dynamic raw food classes I have ever experienced. (yes, of course, have been to at least three)