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. But a series of health problems forced Kenney to rethink the foods he was introducing into his system. “I don't even catch colds anymore,” Kenney said. After 20 years in New York, he was contacted by Prentice, whose concept compelled him to make the leap and move to Oklahoma. Ingredients used are primarily local. Kenney said they do reach into Texas for a few things, but he hopes 105degrees' success will pave the way for more local producers. 105degrees Cafe's fall breakfast menu consists of crepes, granola, muffins, parfaits, smoothies with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Lunch items include shiitake dumplings, spicy vegetable summer rolls, spicy vegetable sushi, golden beet ravioli, portobello mushroom piccata, sprouted sesame wrap, and a blue corn tostada with avocado, baby zucchini and orange pepper. Among the sides are creamed spinach, eggplant chips and zucchini hummus. Dinner entrees include sweet corn tamales with raw cacao mole and mango guacamole, Heirloom tomato lasagna with pistachio pesto, marinara, green zebra tomato and basil oil. The bar carries organic, gluten-free lager and organic cider along with a variety of wines and cocktails. The cafe uses no dairy, not even in the ice cream. As the movement toward looking to fresh, local avenues for nourishment increases, Prentice and Kenney couldn't have timed the move much better. The building itself is proof that the movement has gone mainstream. This is not a place that smells like old vitamins and is run by a kindly bearded gent whom time left in 1968. The sleek and modern interior design alone makes 105degrees a player for elegant events and dinner parties. But the food preparations are the topper. 105degrees was doubtlessly the city's most unique upscale eatery the day it opened. Whether this move towards living cuisine takes seed is up to the masses.
Where: 5820 N Classen Blvd. Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. Class information: www.105degrees.com.
To read about the Food Dude's dinner at 105degrees Cafe, go online to Cathey's blog.
Raw foods contain live enzymes that aid in digestion. The enzymes activate as they are consumed. Heating foods to temperatures above 118 degrees causes those enzymes to die, destroys nutrients and vitamins, and alters the natural metabolic structure of the food. The optimal temperature for preparing raw foods is 105 degrees.