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The Power of the Plate

5 yogi chefs, impassioned by their principles and practice, are changing the way America eats.

By Susan Piperato & Charity Ferreira

From Farm to Classroom

Anupama Joshi | Co-director, National Farm to School Network | Chicago, Illinois

Many of the nation's schoolchildren don't know where food comes from and don't get to see fresh foods in their raw form, says Anupama Joshi, the co-director of the National Farm to School Network, an organization based in Los Angeles that promotes relationships between elementary and high schools and local farms. As a result, she says, their tastes lean toward the often highly processed foods they're familiar with. Farm to School programs aim to change that. "Food should be an integral part of the school system because it has ramifications not just for academic achievement but for overall development and health," Joshi says. "Making those connections is what Farm to School does."

Individual Farm to School programs - which are currently operating in some 10,000 schools throughout all 50 states—connect local farms with schools, giving kids the opportunity to taste fresh, locally grown food in their school cafeterias; to learn about good nutrition; and to get their hands dirty in school gardens and on farm tours. Each program is distinct and individual, growing out of the needs and desires of its community. The National Farm to School Network works with regional agencies to support the grassroots movement from the bottom up, providing a model and offering training for interested schools and farmers.

Joshi makes time to practice yoga three to five times a week, both at home and in class. She finds that something her teacher often tells her resonates with her more each day. "She tells me that the time you're spending in your yoga practice—this hour, this half hour, this minute—is dedicated to you; separate out all of the other roles and jobs that you do and spend that time strengthening yourself. If you want to be true to those other roles, you have to be true to yourself."

"I'd like to see a change in the way parents and communities think about how we're feeding our kids, to see more discourse on how our food system is set up, and how we can think about restructuring it."

Raw Materials

Matthew Kenney | Owner and director, 105degrees Academy | Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

After a high-profile career as a chef on the New York restaurant scene, Matthew Kenney converted to a vegan diet. He opened Pure Food and Wine in New York City in 2004, becoming one of the first to bring raw food to the attention of the upscale restaurant world. His innovative approach to a raw, organic lifestyle blends his interests in health and haute cuisine, and has grown to include partnerships in restaurants and consulting projects worldwide. One of his latest ventures is 105degrees Academy, the country's first raw culinary school, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

A chef trained in classical French cuisine, Kenney saw that while the raw-food movement was exploding, there weren't established techniques in this new cuisine for would-be chefs to draw on. He designed the curriculum at 105degrees to give the next generation of raw chefs a solid foundation in the methods, tools, ingredients, and philosophy of raw food. The academy offers two consecutive, full-time, monthlong courses, titled Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine and Advanced Raw Techniques. As part of their training, student chefs prepare upscale raw cuisine for the 105degrees Cafe, which caters to a diverse and enthusiastic local clientele.

About 10 students currently enroll in each session, and Kenney estimates that the academy will have graduated approximately 150 students by this spring. As a trailblazer in the raw-food world, Kenney has had to be creative. He credits his 15-year yoga practice with giving him a flexibility and openness that translate directly to the kitchen; some of his best recipe ideas, he says, have come to him after practicing. "Yoga opens you in the way you allow it to. It makes room for creativity that you otherwise wouldn't have."

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March 2011

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