Cook It Raw in Your Town
I just finished watching No Reservations’ latest episode which centered on the 2012 Cook It Raw food free-for-all-meets-localvore-to-the-extreme event which took place in the Ishikawa Prefecture of Japan. The Cook It Raw powers that be describe the event as follows:
“Cook It Raw brings the world’s leading chefs together at a different location every year and has them exchange ideas and gain knowledge from local farmers, fishermen and artisans. On the final night a dinner takes place, in which each chef creates a dish inspired by the people and region that have acted as their muse. Our chefs are the heart of Cook It Raw, the driving force behind this culinary expedition, and their recreation of the products and techniques that they encounter is what makes the experience unpredictable and magical.” (CookItRaw.org)
This is really an anything goes type thing. Boundaries are meant to be pushed. Palettes are meant to be shocked. There are no recipes. There term “status quo” has no definition within the confines of Cook It Raw. The chefs forage and hunt, not only for their ingredients, but for the inspiration that comes from the resources and culture of the host region. In the end, the dishes are served on a “plate” designed by local artisans (which serve to further inspires the chef’s dish) to a group of invited guests.
Go big or go home seems to be the theme of the evening. The dishes succeed or fail in spectacular fashion. Good or not so good, every dish has you thinking. And, that is the point. Cook It Raw is all about changing the way we look at food.
Ah, but there’s the rub. The chefs of Cook It Raw, the guests, the food journalists, the Anthony Bourdains of the world, they already praise the evolution of the human taste bud. They endeavor to push the boundaries of cooking every day. They are the food and foodie elite.
Unfortunately, the average foodie will never have the opportunity to experience the unbridled curiosity of Cook It Raw. Even the most adventurous foodie will only ever taste a fully formed dish from a professional chef. René Redzepi isn’t likely to serve a paying customer an experimental dish made from greens he randomly picked on the side of the road on the way to work.
The key is, people like good food. The average American hasn’t tried whelk and may not necessarily know what grows in their own backyard. So, with a country so full of amazing culinary talents, why not have local Cook It Raw dinners around the country. Give local chefs a night off from their menus, and give local foodies a chance to try truly once-in-a-lifetime dishes. For example, Adam Siegel and Sandy D’Amato can gather together the best local chefs for Cook It Raw: Milwaukee.
Who knows what will happen. Best case scenario, you’re introduced to new foods, get a greater understanding of where you live and have a lot of fun doing it. Worst case scenario, you have a night of food that isn’t so great. Either way, people are thinking. They are changing the way they look at food. And, that’s a good thing.