A raw cooking class sounds as oxymoronic as a pencil-free drawing lesson or a land-based swimming course, so when I heard about the Raw Comfort Food class at The Mixing Bowl, I had to check see what healthy junk food looked like.
Raw food is up there with the latest return-to-our-biological-roots food trends like the paleo diet and various purges that claim to detoxify us from our modern lives. Restrictive diets aren’t my thing — I’m a staunch advocate of claims backed by proven science, and moderation. And cake. (In moderation, of course).
Armed with my boyfriend and another couple, we easily found the welcoming space just off Hollywood Road with a café on the ground floor. We walked up the narrow staircase into the first-floor kitchen where we were greeted by our instructor, Joyce Marot, a nutritionist, chef and author. Anticipating the scepticism, Joyce gave us a basic background in the theory behind raw food and made clear that raw foods could find a place in any diet – there was no mandate to leave the room vowing to chuck our pots and pans. I wasn’t entirely swayed by the scientific claims, for which the internet can give you an abundance of evidence on both sides, but her glowing skin and enviable guns after years of raw foodism were hard to argue with.
The three basic tools for raw “cooking” are a food processor, a blender and a dehydrator. We used them to make fake parmesan cheese, burgers and brownies. Getting right to the point – the food was awesome. And filling. It would be a real stretch to call what we made parmesan cheese but it whatever it was, it was tangy and delectable and I’d happily eat it smeared on crackers.
The burgers and the brownies were the same basic process: pulverize, pack then dehydrate. The patties were a combination of nuts, mushrooms, garlic, herbs and spices; the brownies were a blend of other nuts, coconut butter, dates and cacao powder. The burgers went the way of the parmesan – did they taste like a burger? No. Did they taste awesome? Yes. And it was filling. Weirdly so. In a good way.
A quick side note: if you go to the evening class, eat a snack ahead of time. The mains won’t be ready until almost 9 p.m. Expecting dinner around 6.30pm will leave you as hangry as I was about halfway through.
Now the brownies. Oh, the brownies. Remember that thing about me being a staunch advocate of cake? These suckers do the trick. Rich and gooey and dusted with desiccated coconut, they tick all the boxes for everything I’d ever need in a dessert.
I walked away feeling like I’d learned some new techniques to add to my cooking repertoire (although those techniques come with a shopping list for some kitchen appliances) and a new appreciation for the variety available in raw foods.
The fun and intimate feel of the class and space also had me perusing the rest of the class register. Classes cost $450-$700 depending on the topic and typically last about three hours. It’s a great way to spend the evening on a date, with a group, or even on your own.