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Archive for the ‘Living Light Culinary Institute’ Category

Catering for the Raw Food World Conference, Ecuador

All I can say is… fully present, in the moment and practicing a lot of just “be”. Oh yea, and I changed countries. I’ve been here in Ecuador for more or less 6 months and it has been an amazing journey in all sorts of aspects of my life.. mostly the areas I didn’t know existed or certain nooks which needed some cleaning out. This new peace and balance I’ve welcomed into my life has been paying off in a good karma way.. on a daily basis. I’m learning the power of manifestation and how to accutely tune in to my inner-self.. and to be aware of where emotions come from and accepting them as a new lesson.

Sharing a laugh with Jan!

Intention, manifestation and creation.. raw food creations. Ok, this may sounds a tad weird.. but my creations both planned and impulsive have been spot on – like I was somehow told the combination and proportions in the middle of the night. There are dozens of times in the past few weeks that I wake up at 5am and head right to the kitchen to try some random recipe floating in my head. I know in the past,  I usually mull or simmer some things for a couple days before trying them.. but, it’s like I can’t create fast enough!

I think it all started when I decided to get social and meet some others living in the

Eating straight from the garden - everything grows so well here

area. This is the type of place where (more…)

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Artisana booth - mixing up a storm!

Artisana booth - mixing up a storm!

One of my favorite things about raw expos is all the interesting like minded people you get to meet. It’s kind of like a support group for raw foodies – or at least that’s how I see it. You know a lot of us have chosen a lifestyle which is poo  poo’d by many of our friends, simply because they don’t understand it or get it. I’m fortunate enough to have an extremely supportive roommate and close friends – and heck, my guy friends love coming to my house because they’ll eat whatever I make them – they dig raw foods, as long as they don’t have to put the time in. That’s the funny thing, if you are organized, it doesn’t take much time at all – but that’s a whole different blog, right? Back to the expo. I have to say a big highlight in my day on Friday was meeting Cole with Artisana – a fabulous company that makes amazing live organic orgasmic nut butters. One of my favorite is Goji Bliss.. which I just found out they are discontinuing!! Uuugh. Here I was having an amazing conversation with Cole – who is quite the funny and charismatic man – when he dropped the bomb. Nope, it’s going away. Why I screamed?

Sandwiched between two redhead raw food chefs - he's in heaven!

Sandwiched between two redhead raw food chefs - he's in heaven!

I guess when the two tastes sit together for a while – well the company just wasn’t happy with the flavor. Of course it’s not the end of the world, since I can mix my own Coconut butter and goji berries together – but I thought it was one of their best sellers!! See, you get inside information when you go to these expo’s and start chatting up the reps!! Cole did show me how to mix a couple products together to make what taste very similar to peanut butter – I happened to tell him about my obsession with pb from childhood. He also slid me a new recipe for a yummy pudding which I’m not ready to divulge until I try it myself 🙂 Got to say, if you haven’t tried Artisana products yet, go to their website and pick up a few butters. The company does an exceptional job with every product they put out.. and of course, like all raw food and ingredients, it’s all made with love. If you see Cole at an expo, please stop and chat – he’s a people lover and always has some great stories, not to mention free samples. He’s like the wizard of oz.. all in his green jacket!!!

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raw lemon-poppyseed cake

raw lemon-poppyseed cake

I’m embarrassed its been so long since I’ve made an entry, how rude of me. Well I’m happy to say I’m fresh back from the Vibrant Living Expo in Ft. Bragg and gotta say you missed out if you weren’t there. I was chosen a couple months ago as one of the new raw food chefs in the world to demonstrate one of my original creations. It’s a recipe I created while up at school and damn if I do say so myself, it’s yummy as hell. Ok, the dish is Coconut Hoisin Glazed Tropical Gyozas.. and they are good no matter what time of day. I use coconut wraps and a tropical filling to create a little surprise burst of flavor in your mouth. The demo went well thanks to my good friend and now business partner Jan Zerr. She’s a fellow chef who I met a year ago. We are now starting up our own company.. but more on that later, it’s not yet complete!

 

It was so nice to be back at Living Light and see all my friends. I not only gave a demo but spent all day Saturday in the kitchen helping with all sorts of prep. It was crazy busy, but I thrive on that. I absolutely love a production

Making zucchini spaghetti

Making zucchini spaghetti

and being on deadline, I know, call me crazy. It can be so much fun though if you’re with a great group of people. Matt Samuelson, who’s the head chef at LL and Martine who manages the kitchen are just incredible to work with. I met so many wonderful chefs and speakers and was finally able to put faces to names I’ve heard many times. 

 

I also learned some crazy new recipes so stay tune to my website for those!! Yum, yum in my tum, tum. I’m still rocking it hard when it comes to raw food and feeling like a rock star with all this energy I have.

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IMG_4459So today was a test like no other — to cater a gourmet lunch for the public. Yes, a paid gig – not that we see the money. Our payment is in the experience. It was a huge hit. I may be weird because I love this kind of thing. To me, it’s just like working in television. It’s a production and has to be treated like a production. You need everyone to have their “game faces” on. Every item needs to be double checked, every dish scrutinized before heading out to a table. And you have to be right on time. A wise friend told me a very long time ago when I was just starting out in TV.. when you appear in front of a group, you must own it, make it all yours. That’s what me and my fellow chefs did. We owned it. Not just in the amazing food we made them, but in the presentation, the explanation, the table settings, the menus… we were like rock stars in our own head. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t all that. But after spending three days preparing the 4 course meal with every ounce of love we had, it was a pleasure to see the smiles form throughout the room. I was in charge of the dessert. My friend Sydney and I had spent hours delicately putting each layer together. A lovely apple and walnut Baklava. Cutting it without it falling IMG_4498apart took a steady hand. I just kept saying to  myself, I do this with love. I want to infuse this blessed dessert with all the love I can — and oh yeah universe can you please keep all the layers together? Please, pretty please let this knife slice right through it with ease. Please let the apples all stay in line. Lot’s of concentration – but it was worth it. The crowd loved it and I have to say (more…)

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Wine Festival in Mendocino, CA

Wine Festival in Mendocino, CA

It’s so crazy how much my taste buds have changed. Or maybe enlightened would be a better word. Sensatized? Since I’ve been eating almost 75% raw I can taste spices and ingredients in dishes I never even knew existed. I mean taste all of it. I absolutely love it. Of course one of my biggest loves made me realize how much my taste buds have changed. We had the weekend off from raw food school so a couple of us decided to go to the Mendocino wine, chocolate and beer festival. Yes, really.. three of my favorite things all rolled into one festival. It was heaven. Our instructor, Cherie Soria had a booth at the festival and we helped her set up and gave out tasters of raw chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis. I can’t tell you how much I love blowing people’s minds by telling them it’s made with Avacados!!! Most people don’t believe me. Some laugh, some are in shock and then some are freaked. It was actually a really good reality check moment for me. I mean, I love that I can make something so sweet and demanding as chocolate mousse and I can use a good whole fat which is easy for the body to digest. The

Decorating Chocolate Mousse

Decorating Chocolate Mousse

thought of avacado in a dessert put one lady over the edge. She wouldn’t go near it, not for anything. She quite frankly had “disgust” written all over her face. She just walked away and I thought, wow, those are the people who are going to take a while to understand and accept the raw food lifestyle. Don’t worry, it didn’t stop me in my tracks or anything – just a clarity moment. Anyhow back to this lovely festival. You buy a glass for $20 (all money goes to charity) then you cruise around the lawn of this lovely old Victorian home in downtown Mendocino and taste wines from all over California. Some very, very good organic wines. In between you pop chocolate of all sorts in your mouth to cleanse your palate.. or so that was our excuse. My friend Shima and I took this all very seriously. I’ve always loved a good glass of red wine. I know when I like one and when I don’t (although it’s hard to find one not to my liking :)) But until this weekend, I could never taste the overtones and undertones you hear wine connoisseurs describe. Really. There have been times when I could detect a fruitiness or a dryness to my red but that’s as far as it got. This weekend, my connection to red wine (more…)

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The 5 gringo RAW tamale makers

The 5 gringo RAW tamale makers

Wow did I take a chance with my recipe today. So we are working on cutting the fat waaaaay down this week and our challenge is to only have less than 30% fat in an entire 5 course meal. Extremely tough when you start analyzing how much fat we consume in one day. Oh, don’t worry it’s scary, just not as scary when you are a raw foodie. I may have mentioned in these advance classes we only get 7 ingredients for the entire menu too. They want us to think outside the box. That’s what I did.

I decided to make all RAW Tamales without using corn, avocado, tomatoes your usual Mexican stuff. What did I have to work with??? Cauliflower. Yep that white flowerhead vegetable which is related to the cabbage family. It has a distinct taste and texture — which I decided to make smooth and creamy like the maiz of a tamale. This was a very labor intensive dish made with big love from a very dedicated team. The class voted my entree in. I was surprised how many wanted to try to work on this creation. Honestly it felt like one step away from disaster. I mean in my head it all should work with the right binders and processing —

RAW creation

RAW creation

 again WITHOUT cooking. I really just jumped out on a ledge with this ambitious meal. We had 90 minutes to make it. Just as I was starting to doubt that the recipe in my head and now on paper could actually work, one of my assistant Chef’s Sherri from Texas leaned over and said the angelic words I needed to hear. “I’m so thrilled to be on your team because you always come up with the most inventive dishes. I’m honored to work for you.” You talking to me sista? Cause I’m about to have a breakdown as I lead my team of 5 down a tamale torcher fest!! She’s the best. She wanted to work with me and was willing to do whatever it took to make this recipe succeed. This is the type of comraderie  that happens in culinary school. It’s like going into food battle. You need a good team and we all need to be on the same page before we get to the kitchen. From the get go, I told everyone we were going to have to work balls-to-the-wall for our entire time. I laid (more…)

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hard at work

hard at work

Have you ever planned a sweet dinner party and actually sat down and planned out what you were going to make? I mean to the tee, like how many tablespoon of filling goes into each gyoza? I hadn’t before attending RAW food school in Ft. Bragg last fall. Now my days are filled with the opportunity to get as creative – anal as i want to. It’s another eye opening day at Living Light. We are working on Spa Cuisine, which basically means say good bye to all those good fats we eat so much of as raw foodies. Don’t get me wrong, they are the best fats for you BUT as I discussed after my   croissant incident. Did I tell you I also had a “quichey” looking thing. I cringed to think if I just openly ate eggs in about a year. Yuck, no wonder it made me feel ill. I digress. Obviously when you visit a spa, you don’t want to feel heavy or eat heavy or feel guilty about months of eating unhealthy. So you’ll always choose the light and fresh, especially if there’s a light dessert right? So the challenge today was to plan our first menu together trying to cut fat down to 30% on the menu. Most meals these days are more like 60% fat, so that’s quite a big number to get ride of. Now, if you’re a chef, or a rawdie, you realized immensly how important fats are to bringing out the flavor in a recipe. It can boost or mellow, thicken, fill.. and it lingers the longest in your mouth. Now get rid of that yumminess and scale down your pantry. it’s time to get very light in our creations. Absolutely eye opening what our groups came up with. The menu was Asian Fusion and the goal was to have most

Tropical Dessert Gyoza

Tropical Dessert Gyoza

 

 

things fat free – without losing flavor of course. Everyone’s was great but none of us got it exactly right the first time. Rarely does that happen. Some needed tweeking. See that’s what i love about menu planning and recipe development. When you experience raw, it’s from every angle. Taste, texture, nutrients, colors, combinations, creations with unlimited possibilities, twists and flares. It’s so fun. I dig being a raw food chef. Truly love the exploration into culinary health.

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