The raw-diet avantgarde

In the third issue of her column, Lisa Casali introduces us to the real raw cuisine

30-07-2014
Cone with vegetables and flowers by Daniela Cicion

Cone with vegetables and flowers by Daniela Cicioni perfectly illustrates the great creativity that characterises the raw diet cuisine, which is spreading more and more even in our country. Thanks to preparations that never exceed 42°C, it is possible to preserve the organoleptic characteristics of the vegetables used in these recipes in the best possible way

When we speak about raw diet, we can refer to a life-style, a diet choice or simply a series of gastronomic techniques. Raw diet includes something profoundly ancient and modern at the same time, so much so it is considered one of the most interesting gastronomic avantgarde in the last few years. While in Italy the number of chefs who stand out for offering raw dishes in high cuisine is still limited, abroad public success has consecrated many chefs because of these innovative raw offers.

There are essentially two principles on which raw diet is based: the first is the exclusive use of vegetal ingredients, the second is the fact that preparations must never exceed 42°C, above which degradation and enzyme and vitamin (A, C, E and group B) loss occur.

Cereals and legumes, for instance, are germinated or sprouted, so as to become tender and digestible. Oil seeds are soaked in water and fermented, and are at the basis of various preparations. Fruits and vegetables are prepared and transformed through marinating, fermenting, drying or simply prepared with special cutting techniques.

For some chefs, embracing these techniques coincides with a radical choice in life, for others it represents an opportunity to obtain innovative and surprising results. Dishes cooked following raw techniques, indeed unite environmental sustainability and pleasure for the eyes and the palate.

Tricoloured rice salad by Daniela Cicioni

Tricoloured rice salad by Daniela Cicioni

Speaking of which, I asked chef Daniela Cicioni a few questions. She’s a consultant specialised in raw cuisine who told me how she was charmed by the infinite possibilities offered by these techniques, even though she did not renounce to the more traditional ones. According to the chef, understanding raw cooking techniques can enrich your cuisine but in order for these dishes to be complete in all respects, it is necessary to have a specific training on the principles of vegetal nutrition, in particular with regards to vegetal proteins.

What changes in the organisations of the cooking stations? «As for express preparations, there’s no special difference because raw versus traditional cooking times are similar. As for those preparations that need to be prepared in advance, raw cuisine requires much longer times because few days and hours are needed to soak, ferment, dry, but it is only a matter of planning and of organising the stations differently» – Daniela Cicioni replies.

Another surprising creation by Daniela Cicioni, who over the years specialised in raw diet cuisine, though without abandoning more traditional techniques: this is her Cheesecake with blueberries

Another surprising creation by Daniela Cicioni, who over the years specialised in raw diet cuisine, though without abandoning more traditional techniques: this is her Cheesecake with blueberries

Among the protagonists of this high cuisine trend abroad, popular names such as Matthew Kenney, Russell James, Omid Jaffari, Chad Sarno, Doug McNish, authors of numerous volumes and television programmes, stand out.

In Italy the number of chefs who emerge thanks to their raw offer are still few, even though this number is certainly destined to increase. On the other hand, there are already many people who have an awareness and training role, such as Laura Cuccato (SaltoNelCrudo.it), Ani Phyo, Anya Kassoff of Golubka, Cristina Archila.

If when thinking of raw diet only salads and cold vegetable creams come to your mind, pay a visit to their websites. You might soon have the chance to taste some surprising dish prepared with these technique or perhaps you will fancy trying for yourself.


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Tecniche, ingredienti e iniziative della ristorazione attenta all'ambiente e agli ideali di Expo 2015, viste da Lisa Casali