As a part-time raw food chef in New York City at Organic Avenue
, I love to prepare tasty raw food dishes that continue to amaze people and gratify their taste buds.
Organic Avenue is not a restaurant, it’s more like a raw vegan food-natural living-community boutique. The store hosts raw food classes and events and offers fresh raw specialties made by our chefs. For some customers, prices may be a bit high, but considering that our food is made with fresh organic ingredients, hand-made in small batches, and has a short shelf life (3-4 days for most items), the prices are equivalent to the quality of the food.
The core focus of Organic Avenue is a 5 day raw food program prepared to facilitate healing and detoxification and transition to a healthier lifestyle. In this program, all juice and food is: raw (unheated), organic (no chemicals added), vegan (no animal by-products). Each program consists of 7 different items, delivered or picked up fresh each day. Each day is a bit different and exciting, yet all is very easy to follow.
Being a “chef” without using burners, oven, or any kind of high heat is cool! I don’t burn myself, I stay cooler in the summertime; and when it comes to cleaning up, there’s no cooked-food grime and grease to remove. But what about that sweet smell of baking apple pie, or the savory aroma of sautéing garlic and onions? Do I miss this enticing olfactory cooking experience by not cooking? Surprisingly, I don’t! Each time I walk by the “Little Pie Company,” or an Italian restaurant, or prepare cooked food for my son, I get to enjoy those smells! The funny thing is, though I enjoy some of the smells of cooked food, I don’t crave cooked food! But if one day I do desire to eat cooked food, I will!
Though we don’t cook food at Organic Avenue, we do experience olfactory pleasure. When you walk in our kitchen, oftentimes it is permeated with the sweet smell of raw chocolate macaroons dehydrating at 115°F (over 118°F, enzymes and nutrients begin to be destroyed). Or for example, the other night, I had just put in the dehydrator a batch of falafel I made from sunflower seeds, almonds, shallots, garlic, scallions and spices. Within 30 minutes, one of our juicers (a person, not a machine and a cooked foodist, not a raw foodist) remarked, ”Mmmmmm…..mmmm….I smell those falafels.”
Organic Avenue Falafels
The aroma was similar to that of shallots, garlic, and onion baking in an oven. The use of dehydrators to make falafel, macaroons, pizza crusts, Essene breads, marinade veggies, make pine-nut cauliflower rice for sushi, veggie crackers, fiesta chips (like corn chips), expands the culinary experience of raw foodists.
Organic Avenue Fiesta Chips
Besides dehydrators, other raw food kitchen essentials include high-powered blenders (like a Vita-Mix) that don’t burn out when blending thick puddings, nut pates, soups, and sauces. Food processors, an assortment of knives, cutting boards, graters, ice cream maker, seed sprouting bags to sprout seeds and make nut milks, and seed grinders are all part of a raw food kitchen set-up.
Sprout Bags (used for nut milk too) - Buckwheat Sprouts for Tabouli
At one time, my kitchen was set up like the late Dr. Ann Wigmore’s kitchen at her institute in Boston. Like Dr. Wigmore, I had sprouts, wheat grass, buckwheat and sunflower greens growing all over my New York City apartment! Though we do some sprouting for rejuvelac (a fermented drink) and tabouli, we don't grow greens at Organic Avenue. If we did, there wouldn't be any room for the, prep, spices, produce, and kitchen equipment like our Norwalk juicer and heavily used vita-mix blenders. Our kitchen is too small; we barely have room for ourselves!
Out of the small but vibrant kitchen and upstairs in the store are two tables and some chairs so you can sit and enjoy casual fun conversation, ask questions about raw food, and experience the benefit and pleasure of eating in the raw...though not entirely in the raw--clothes are required!