If someone introduced the idea of 'whole' or 'raw' cooking to me a few years ago, I most likely would have scoffed at the thought and fervently dismissed it as just another foodie fad. While I have since become more open to the idea, I still held some scepticism before I set off to attend a whole and raw food cooking demonstration led by chef Sophie Budd at her studio, Taste Budds. Rather than confirm any remaining scepticism, however, Sophie dispelled it by giving an informative class which proved just how simple, delicious and totally non-fussy whole and raw food cooking can be.
In partnership with doTERRA essential oils, Sophie guided the class through a three course menu which used simple ingredients and the addition of signature flavours (in the form of edible essential oils) to turn an otherwise ordinary dish into an extraordinary one. First up was a 'Warming Pumpkin & Cardamon Soup with Cashew Cream & Gluten free Buckwheat Bread'. Using Karri Hill Buckwheat flour, Sophie whipped up a simple bread dough in a matter of seconds. While I am not intolerant to gluten, the final product, which was served straight from the oven with a scattering of toasted pine nuts on top, had me seriously debating my devotion to 'normal' bread. Light, fluffy and moreish, it proved that gluten free alternatives can be just as good, if not better, than their glutenous counterparts. Eaten alongside the soup, which was flavoured with thyme and black pepper oil and a dollop of cashew cream, it posed as the ultimate Autumn-Winter comfort food.
Next up was 'Spelt Pasta with Mushrooms, Thyme, Garlic and Lemon'. While not entirely gluten free, Sophie explained that spelt contains less of it and is an ideal alternative for those who aren't necessarily intolerant, but react a little unfavourably to highly gluten-based pasta. Personally, I love spelt - it has a distinct nutty taste and produces delicious baked goods. The use of spelt for the pasta did not disappoint either. For this dish, the addition of rosemary, thyme and black pepper oil to the luscious sauce really upped the ante. To accompany the pasta, Sophie prepared a simple 'Raw Beetroot, Cauliflower, Kale and Broccoli Salad' with a lime, lemongrass and ginger oil dressing which really packed a punch.
The finale to our gormandizing came in the form of a 'Raw Cheesecake'. This was the aspect of the class that needed to sway my scepticism most; as a cheesecake purist, I could never imagine giving up the real deal for something made out of cashews and coconut cream. Admittedly, while I probably never will opt for the raw version over the 'real' one if the two were placed in front of me, Sophie's quick and easy 'cheesecake' bites were absolutely delicious in their own right. The base, made out of only the best hazelnuts from Manjimup, brazil nuts, macadamias and dates, was what dreams are made of. The cold cashew 'cheese', which had a zing of lime and lemongrass oil, was smooth and refreshing, making the overall dessert a perfect healthy treat for hotter days.
With a full belly and a book filled with notes, I walked away ever the more knowledgeable about healthy cooking and just how fun, approachable and adaptable it can be. Sophie's evident passion for local produce is infectious and her demonstrated ability to whip up meals that pack a flavour punch is a nice reminder that good food doesn't necessarily require hours of time in the kitchen. If you have ever wanted to broaden your culinary mind, Taste Budds Cooking Studio is the place to do it. With more Raw and Whole food demonstrations coming up in soon, as well as an overall exciting calendar, including pasta and gnocchi, vegan and gluten free Indian and even Naked Cake styling, there's no shortage of classes for the fellow foodie.
Find out more about Taste Budds Cooking Studio here