Chef Matthew Kenney's career is peppered with challenges met and conquered. The New Yorker-turned-Okie now faces the greatest challenge of his career: feeding folks food that's not only not chicken-fried but barely cooked at all.
He and his partner, Dara Prentice, began their ambitious and culture-changing concept 105degrees last week.
105degrees is a three-pronged attack on our deep-fried proclivities that includes an academy, cafe and boutique. The first tenant of the Classen Curve development, 105degrees Academy began classes Sept. 8. Dinner service began Sept. 12 at 105degrees Cafe; lunch and breakfast started Monday.
The name signifies the optimum temperature for preparing raw foods, called living cuisine.
Kenney said the idea is to celebrate the nutrients of vegetables rather than cook them away.
What little cooking is used is done subtly. Soups can be slightly warmed in a blender or dehdrator. The sous vide technique, sealing foods in plastic bags and cooking them in hot water, is also practiced.
“Rather than cooking all the moisture out of the food, we're sealing it in,” Kenney said.
Also used is an anti-griddle, which instantaneously freezes foods that come into contact with its “cooktop.”
“Perhaps we'll make the interns stick their tongues to it as an initiation,” he joked.
The interns he speaks of are part of the first class at 105degrees Academy. It's a state-licensed school focused on living-cuisine techniques.
Prentice says it's the only cooking school on the planet that focuses solely on raw foods.
She became interested in raw cuisine almost three years ago.
“It wasn't long after that I came up with the concept,” she said. “And the first (raw foods) cookbook I bought was by my partner.”
Prentice used the skills of persuasion she developed as a successful attorney to draw Kenney to the prairie.
After training at the French Culinary Institute, Kenney began his career with goals not unlike his colleagues.