CONVERSATION WITH A CHEF | RENÉE MCCREADY
By Jo Rittey
Renée is a passionate advocate of the plant-based diet. She is the Head Raw Chef at newly opened Home Juice Bar where she will be whipping up beautiful salads, raw vegan dips and sauces and raw dessert treats for the lunchtime trade. Renée’s raw vegan caramel chocolate slice is insanely good. Seek it out!
What’s the philosophy behind raw food?
The concept of eating raw has been around for a long time, it’s just that it has hit critical mass and become popular in the last two years. The idea is that food in its raw state holistically contains the entire vitamin and mineral content our body needs and the enzymes remain intact. When we heat food over a certain temperature we are eradicating much of the goodness in the food. In saying that, within the raw food movement, we do use dehydration which is around 42° Celsius. The enzymes and mineral content within the food remain intact at that level of cooking…or un-cooking.
So it’s about the way our body processes food?
If you think about it from an energetic nutrition point of view, which for me is what it’s about, it’s about creating frequency. Everything in the universe contains frequency and food is a portion of that frequency. When we are consuming food in its raw state, we are consuming high frequency food and then as soon as we start to heat it, we’re killing or dropping that frequency. The frequency that we hold and the frequency the food holds is a co-creation. It’s feeding and nourishing us on a whole other level. Not only nutritionally but on an energetic level as well.
How did you get into raw food?
I got into it a long time ago. It was actually 2009 when I first started playing around with the concept of raw food. The whole idea made sense to me. My background was Chinese medicine, so for me it was an unusual flip because in Chinese medicine the foundation belief system is you cook the crap out of everything. Slow-cooked soups and stews with lots of meat. There was a lot of unlearning that had to happen for me. But working with raw food was a natural process that I understood. I started researching and playing around with recipes. I would research normal recipes and think, how can I turn this into a raw food recipe. Then I realised that it wasn’t new. I wasn’t inventing anything. I had thought I was coming up with these great concepts but people were already doing them.
Is it easy to find the ingredients you need?
You can buy a lot of them in supermarkets now. Terra Madre in Northcote is one of the most fantastic places to buy good organic produce suitable for a plant-based diet.
What about in winter, do you eat cold?
What it comes down to is that everyone is different. Every body type is different. Some people can handle a completely raw food or plant-based diet, as I like to call it, some can handle a certain amount of it. I believe it’s a seasonal thing. It’s important not to do something because it’s popular. You have to internally check how things feel for you. In the depths of winter, I believe that I need to eat warm soups and steamed vegetables, so I don’t choose to eat completely raw.
Tell me about Home Juice Bar.
It’s exciting. It’s cutting edge. We’ve got the most amazing juicer that’s just arrived from the States. All cold-pressed organic. All in glass bottles. We have an organic salad bar. We also have a raw dessert bar. We have a couple of amazing chocolatiers that are making real alchemy with chocolate and using the chakra frequencies and flavours that resonate with that in the chocolates.
You seem to want to educate people about this.
When you first start out and you want to eat a plant-based diet, it can be daunting because there are so many rules and regulations and even dogmas. In the end, if you just start with something simple, like raw ‘spag bol’. Make a sauce from puréed fresh tomatoes, spiralise a zucchini instead of pasta and there you have it.
When we consume food, it’s an experience. Right from the moment we have the thought, we are already in the process. And it’s about sharing. You share the experience of food with others. For me, making food is like meditation, I am always in a good space. That’s the spiritual aspect for me.
Home Juice Bar
Tenancy 9, 720 Bourke Street, Docklands
Jo is a French teacher, has a PhD in Medieval French Literature and is caught up in the myth she can cram as much as possible into every day. You can read more on lyttelfishbigpond.blogspot.com.au/