“If it doesn’t scare you, then you’re probably not dreaming big enough.” – Tory Burch
Since completing my health coaching certification and choosing to pave my own career path, I’ve found a longing for continuing education that I’ve never had before. I’m always on the lookout for new certifications, courses and workshops I can take part in to deepen my knowledge, enhance my career and connect with other like-minded individuals.
When the opportunity presented itself to attend the Level 1 Raw Plantlab Culinary Course (formerly Matthew Kenney Culinary) in Venice, CA, I knew I had to take it.
Since I can’t squeeze you all into my little Airbnb cottage here in Venice, CA, I thought I would document my experience each week so that you can follow along. If you are interested in learning more about the Plantlab Culinary experience or get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of my adventures here in LA, keep reading!
Level 1 Raw Plantlab Course Week 1
Day 1: Get to know everyone and the space, overview + philosophy, beet ravioli with cashew cheese and bell pepper puree.
I admit, I was a little anxious walking to class. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and was feeling a bit like it was my first day of grade school with my backpack in tow (ha!). The culinary school space is located above the Plant Food + Wine restaurant and is absolutely gorgeous.
When introducing ourselves, what was most surprising to me was how many international students were in class (from Japan, Belgium and Qatar!). My partner, Molly, and I hit it off from the start. We were both the first ones to class, so it was a match made in heaven!
Today we made a delicious beet ravioli filled with cashew cheese and a bell pepper sauce. Did you know that beets oxygenate the body to increase energy (great pre-workout juice option!) and are full of iron?
One of my favorite parts of class is our break period where we sit around the table to enjoy the dish we prepared. It feels like a family dinner each night!
Day 2: Knife skills, heirloom tomato lasagna with macadamia ricotta, pistachio pesto and red pepper marinara, CYO kale chips
Ah, knife skills. This is the most crucial component to top-notch presentation, but admittedly not my favorite part of class. However, practice makes perfect!
Today we made a raw lasagna, which in my opinion, is a staple on any raw menu. There are a lot of nuts and seeds used in raw cuisine which form the base of cheeses and creamy sauces. This was an incredibly rich and satisfying dish!
Tip: soaking nuts helps to release enzymes and phytic acid which allows the body to absorb more of the nutrients and allows for easier digestion.
At the end of the night, we created our own kale chip flavor. I opted for an cheesy herb onion coating which I will share on the blog soon!
Day 3: Knife skills practice, kale chip tasting, CYO smoothie, fermentation lecture, kimchi
At the beginning of each day, we practice knife skills for an hour and a half. This week we are focusing on carrots, celery and bell pepper.
Today we got to taste everyone’s kale chips! There was so much variety in flavors ranging from Indian, Mexican, spicy, superfood and even chocolate. We also worked on a create-your-own smoothie project with our partners. Molly and I decided to go with a dessert smoothie influenced by the flavors of pineapple upside down cake.
We also learned about fermenting and pickling. The best way to consume fermented foods is on an empty stomach to help aid in healthy digestion. Fermented foods are an excellent addition for a healthy diet because they promote gut health (where about 70% of our immune system is located).
Day 4: Knife skills practice, superfoods lecture, CYO smoothie tasting, spicy tuber hand rolls with mango chutney
Up until today, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with nori (the seaweed used in sushi). I tried to use it for a gluten-free wrap once not that long ago and it was a chewy disaster. Nori redeemed itself in today’s hand roll recipe and it was delicious (especially paired with the mango chutney). It’s amazing what vibrant and fresh flavor can come out of using simple ingredients.
We also had a superfoods lecture today. One of the things I learned was that when including adaptogens in your diet, it’s best to take them for 6-8 weeks and then take a break from it for a few weeks so that your body doesn’t become immune to its effects (maca powder is one of my favorites!).
A few things I might try when I get home are spirulina tablets (the health benefits are AMAZING but I hate the taste) and adding a Tablespoon of flaxseed oil in my morning routine for a dose of healthy fats.
Day 5: Knife skills practice, sunflower Caesar salad with rosemary dulse croutons + shitake “anchovies”, sushi rolls
I can’t believe it’s already the end of week 1! I already feel like my classmates and instructors are like family and I’m secretly scheming how I can just stay out here.
Today we made sushi rolls out of jicama and pear rice (yum!) with veggies, avocado and a chipotle mayo. We also made a stunning kale Caesar salad with rosemary dulse croutons, parmesan crisps and dehydrated mushrooms.
In raw cuisine, coconut mimics dairy and is used for creaminess. It is full of potassium, improves circulation, is a natural cooling agent and is what I call, “nature’s Gatorade”.
One of the best parts of culinary school? The leftovers! See you in Week 2 🙂
Other LA wanderings this week:
- The Santa Monica Farmer’s Market on Sunday (great place for fresh, affordable produce!)
- The Butcher’s Daughter – a must on Abbot Kenney Blvd. Ordered the Pesto & Micro Kale Pizza as well as the New Yorker Avocado Toast.
- Kreation Juice – Ordered the Green #4 juice, an omelet and the kale salad. Cool outdoor vibe!
- Café Gratitude – Humble & Whole Bowls were both DELICIOUS!
- Moon Juice – Silver Strawberry Milk, Vanilla Fig Fix Milk and Date Shake (plus a few moon dusts to-go!)
- Blue Bottle Coffee – New Orleans Iced Coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up
- Pilates Platinum Venice – KILLER core workout, small group class (love) and clean studio!
- Barry’s Bootcamp Venice – I’ve never sweat more than I did in this class. Heart pumping and muscle strengthening class with a cool, club-like vibe.