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Dinner w/Ani Phyo at 105 Degrees

July 16, 2010

If you’re at all involved in the raw food blogosphere, you probably heard about Ani Phyo visiting 105 Degrees this week in support of her newest book, Ani’s Raw Food Essentials. She held a class/demo Tuesday evening, and a dinner and book-signing event Wednesday night. On Tuesday, I was four hours east of Kansas City with two friends, seeing Hole in St. Louis (fulfilling a 90’s-teenage-dream of mine), so I couldn’t attend the class. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t drive home from St. Louis overnight, snag 5 hours of sleep, and hop right back in my car Wednesday morning to drive five hours southwest of Kansas City to Oklahoma City…that’s right, I went to the dinner!

I made great time on the way down, and was able to find and check into a hotel beforehand and stop at Pearl’s Oyster Bar for a drink. I breezed on over to 105 (it helped that I remembered the area from the last time I was down there) and arrived just before 6:00, which is when Facebook said the event started. Turns out it didn’t begin till 7, so I had a seat at the bar with a few other ladies who had also thought they needed to be there at 6. We chatted aimlessly, and I sipped a pineapple tonic (kale, ginger, cilantro, and pineapple juice). Other guests began to filter in shortly after, and before I knew it, it was 7:00.

As a solo diner, I’d been assigned a seat right up front, at the same table as the Academy’s current students. I met Joy, Hayley, Orit, and Jacki (a fellow Overland Park-er; what are the chances?!) and talked to them pretty extensively throughout the night about their backgrounds and experiences at the Academy. I also sat next to Russell James, another renowned raw chef and the lead Level I instructor at the Academy. Everyone was so kind, and I reveled in having smart, like-minded foodies to talk to during the event.

Before dinner was served, Ani (looking as glamorous as could be!) spoke for a bit about her personal journey to raw food and her take on the raw lifestyle. She was vivacious and spirited; you can tell just by listening to her how passionate she is about what she does. For our dinner that evening, she’d designed a junk-food-inspired meal full of all-American goodies. It’s funny—I really dislike comfort foods, and had I seen these items on a regular menu, I would have felt somewhere between uninterested and repulsed. But knowing that everything was going to be composed of raw, living, organic, vegan ingredients, I was excited!

As soon as the food started coming out and she finished her initial talk, Ani began walking the dining room to sign books and visit with guests. Ours was one of the first tables she stopped at. I talked to her a bit about my blog, giving her one of my spiffy new blogger business cards, and we chatted briefly about running. Ani was so super-tall in her heels and so super-pretty in her dress that I, with my atypically-earthy-hued attire, flip-flops, and I’ve-been-in-a-car-all-day hair and makeup, was put to utter shame by her radiance. She was so genuine and nice, too—it was just great to get to interact with her.

But you wanna see the food, right?! The first course was a French onion soup with a sourdough crouton, which Ani said was risen with kefir grains. (I also got a glass of organic Côtes du Rhône to have with dinner.) The soup was full-bodied and very umami—I think I detected miso in there. (The only way to improve the event might have been to provide recipes for what we ate!)

The second course was an heirloom tomato slider—a mini portobello burger with eggplant bacon, cheddar, and thousand island dressing, plus a couple of kale chips alongside. I’ve been scared to try kale chips (you know how I am about leafy greens), but I actually enjoyed them; the noochy coating was great. The burger was really good, too—I liked the contrasts between the meaty mushroom, the soft, mildly flavored bun, and the crispy wisps of eggplant.

The last of the savory courses was a chili dog—portobello sausage in a sprouted grain bun with chili, chipotle cheese, and caramelized onions. This is the one I was the most “scared” of – you couldn’t pay me to eat an actual hot dog, ew! – but you know what? It was my favorite! Thankfully, it did NOT taste like a real hot dog—it was sooo much better. The mushroom was moist, with a somehow silky mouthfeel, and the rest of the ingredients worked together like a dream. Love!

The sweet courses began with a root beer float—a fizzy (kombucha-based?) sassafras concoction with vanilla bean ice kream. I’m not a big fan of root beer flavor, so I couldn’t finish all of this, but it was cool that they were able to come up with a raw version!

The banana split was the dessert I was really looking forward to. It had chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice kreams, caramel and cacao syrups, and almond-butter-cup bits on top. Yum!

I was so full after that, there was no way I could have eaten the final course. Luckily, they seemed to have anticipated this, and gave us our raw Twinkies shrink-wrapped and ready to take home. Yes, raw Twinkies! I had these as a midnight snack later, and they were outstanding—obviously not identical to the real deal, but they did an awesome job with the delicate, flaxy cake and the creamy filling.

But the real icing on the cake was getting to talk to Matthew Kenney afterward. He was so kind, gracious, and intelligent, and it was a privilege and a pleasure to finally meet him.

I got a couple pics with Matthew and Ani together as well. Gosh, they make me look even paler than usual, don’t they?!

Matthew signed my Entertaining in the Raw book…

…as well as Everyday Raw

…and I had Ani sign her new Raw Food Essentials book.

What a meal. What an event. What a night! As I’ve mentioned before, I am absolutely dying to attend the 105 Degrees Academy. Have you ever wanted something out-of-reach so badly that the thought of it simultaneously elates and depresses you? I want to do this so very much, but I’m simply not capable of shouldering the financial burden right now…though I’m scrambling to find a way, any way, to do it, I’m running into walls. It’s difficult and discouraging, but I’m not giving up…I feel like this is what I should be doing, that the raw food world is the place I need to be. We’ll see where the future takes me, but in the meantime, getting to meet two of my culinary idols in one night was something I’d never imagined. Thank you again to Ani, Matthew, and everyone at 105 Degrees for a stellar evening! It was well worth the drive.

If you like this, you might also like…
Raw revelry at 105 Degrees
Raw vegan bliss in Dallas
Almost vegan in Chicago 2.1

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2010 2:25 pm

    Ani looks amazing!! She probably looked better in person than in pictures. I am beyond jealous that you got to meet her. Haha I don’t think you look that pale…. they just look really dark 😛 That banana split looks delish! By the way what exactly is the Academy?

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      July 16, 2010 2:34 pm

      Ani proves it; the much-alluded-to raw food “glow” is real! I would never in a million years have guessed that she is about to turn 42.

      The 105 Degree Academy is Matthew Kenney’s raw food chef certification program, the first classically-structured institution of its kind. Check out 105degreesacademy.com.

  2. July 16, 2010 9:39 pm

    I’m so jealous of your dinner with Ani! It looks so amazing and you worked hard to get there 🙂 I need to get back to making raw desserts out of her cookbook I have. Also, you’re gorgeous! :>

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      July 19, 2010 9:50 am

      Thanks Kati! I love her raw desserts book too, and since I recently got a dehydrator, I’m excited to finally try her cupcake recipes 😀

  3. July 16, 2010 10:23 pm

    You are such a liar. That so isn’t a drove-all-day-little-sleep look! You’d just got out of a beauty salon, hadn’t you? In other words: you’re frickin’ gorgeous, love.

    I also love that all that food is out-of-the-ordinary for me not just in being raw, but because those aren’t at all the typical foods I’d see/eat in Australia. And, erm, Amber? Nut-ball joker-extraodinaire? How is it that you didn’t comment on the aesthetics of the banana split dessert? 😀 😀

    I do know how you feel about what you desperately want feeling out of reach. That’s how I feel about wanting to live in America, and also just wanting to know what to do with my life. But I have faith that you’ll find a way – and I can’t wait to read about it when you do. xoxo

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      July 19, 2010 9:56 am

      Aww, you’re too sweet!

      It is funny to think about how distinctly and specifically American all that junk food is. I must have a European soul, because I’d so much rather pig out on bread, pastries, and wine any day :]

      You have NO IDEA how close I was to making a crack about the “phallic banana springing forth majestically from its multicolored pools of kream,” but then I thought “No, I’ve kept this whole post classy so far, and I made TWO ‘that’s what she said’ jokes in my last entry, so I better not.” Haha! You called it ;P

      That’s for relating/commiserating with me. I have faith in you too! And remember, if you do get yourself over here, the Midwest is wonderfully economical place to live, and has some awesome people (cue the giant neon-light floating arrow flashing and pointing directly at my head) too.

      • July 19, 2010 10:51 pm

        Don’t worry – I fully intend to invite myself over as your never-ending houseguest. 😀

  4. July 17, 2010 12:46 am

    Best post ever.

    “He was so kind, gracious, and intelligent, and it was a privilege and a pleasure to finally meet him.”–and he’s freakin hot, don’t forget that tidbit 🙂

    And Ani, omg what a gorgeous, radiant beauty. It just SCREAMS off the screen. And the one of you in the middle where you said you’re pale…you look amazing 🙂

    I am not into root beer at all either. Fizzy raw intrigue, though!

    And wanting something so bad but cant…omg I could tell you stories but please know that YES I have been there! Elated and depressed by the prospect…everything from yoga trips to india to home ownership and tons in between.

    I love this post, Amber. I so wish i could have been there!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      July 19, 2010 10:00 am

      Thank you so much, Averie! I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and the eye candy ;P

      Thanks too for relating to me on the wishing/dreaming/yearning. You might still get to India someday, and I might find myself a temporary OKC denizen yet. We’ll see!

  5. Matt permalink
    July 17, 2010 3:21 pm

    So happy that everything went well there! We’ll figure out a way to get you to the academy.

    I have a feeling I would have liked the food that night. But then, I’m a comfort food lover.

    And you’re not pale, you’re like a beautiful porcelain doll!

    XO,
    Matt

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      July 19, 2010 10:02 am

      Honey bear, you’re the sweetest. Thank you for your love and support :] I do think you would have liked the raw comfort food!

  6. July 17, 2010 3:37 pm

    I know what you mean Amber, I attended 105 in April and had been trying to get there ever since it opened. Between trying to afford it, get the time of work and make my way half way across the world (I am Aussie but live in Saudi Arabia) somehow one day it just happened. If you want something hard enough it will happen, just don’t think about the how or why, just have faith. So exciting. Also pleased you got to meet Jacki. I have spoken to her over email a few times.

    Hang in there darling you will make it there!!! You are much closer to it than me!!!

    xox

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      July 19, 2010 10:03 am

      I loved reading about your experiences at 105; it definitely fueled my fire on wanting to go there! Thank you bunches for the advice and encouragement. I’m not going to lose hope…I promise :] Also, very cool you’ve been in contact with Jacki too.
      Thanks for reading!

  7. July 17, 2010 3:38 pm

    Just re read my post and spelling and grammar issues….oh sorry 🙂

  8. Cathy permalink
    July 18, 2010 6:04 am

    Hi Amber

    Just to say how AMAZING the photos are! SO CLEAR !! What camera to you have? The food sounded AND looked wonderful. How fortuante to have been in attendance that evening, Ani sure is glam ! What a great ambasador for the raw movement, maybe one day will get to meet her also..

    Cathy from London

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      July 19, 2010 10:06 am

      Aw, thank you! I usually think my photos come out pretty blah (at least compared to all the other super-stellar blogger-photogs out there). I just use a point-and-shoot Sony…I can get back to you on the model name; I don’t know it offhand.

      My boyfriend just got back from a business trip in London and had a blast there! I was there briefly last year too, and though I only got a taste, I loved it :]

  9. July 19, 2010 10:33 am

    How incredible! Between the food and the company, that sounds like a dream dinner alright!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      July 19, 2010 10:36 am

      Oh, it WAS! I was in a veritable dream sandwich in those pics of me with Matthew and Ani 😛 And that food—so impressive!

  10. July 19, 2010 10:54 pm

    You lucky duck! I was in Sarasota when Ani was there for an event, but it happened to fall on the same night & time as my friend’s bachelorette party. (My maid of honor duties took precedence.) Still, I was a little sad about missing such a golden opportunity.

    I’m fascinated by raw foods. Though I’m not raw myself, I do prepare raw foods from time to time and love visiting raw restaurants. I would love to be a certified raw foods chef, but that kind of training will have to wait for a day when I can afford to do such a thing.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      July 20, 2010 6:28 am

      Aww, that’s too bad! I read about Ani’s Sarasota event; it looked like a lot of fun!

      I’m the same way—I don’t consider myself even close to all-raw, but I’ve been moving more and more in that direction for some time. It’s so vibrant and alive and beautiful…
      Maybe we’ll each save up or win a great deal of money and then trek down to OKC together and enroll at 105 Degrees, what do ya say? 😛

      And that is TOO FUNNY about the Blue Nile class! Did we talk at all? Small world it is!

  11. July 20, 2010 4:00 pm

    Wow! How cool are you?! What an event full of awesomeness in every way! Food looks heavenly and well, Matthew and Ani – just goes without sayin’. I love root beer so I’d be curious about that treat and French onion soup is one of my all time faves (I miss it sometimes *sniff*) but hey a healthy version, oh yeah! You look so calm and cool in the photos, I’d probably be so nervous next to either of these super stars I’d look like a robot! Anyway, fun post. Hope you realize your dream one day!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      July 20, 2010 8:37 pm

      Hehe, thank you! I was anything BUT calm and cool going into it, but I really relaxed as the evening went on—Matthew and Ani were both very friendly and easy to talk to. :]

  12. Rachel permalink
    July 21, 2010 5:26 pm

    That is VERY cool Amber! If you had taken me, I would have definitely finished your root beer float for you! Haha, the other things (besides the banana split, of course) looked like a bit of a stretch for me to try…but if you had insisted, I would haver. 🙂 Love ya girl!

    And that is a great opportunity to chat it up with a level 1 instructor at the Academy! You will make it there chica! I know you have the potential, most definitely!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      July 22, 2010 10:26 am

      I wish you were there to finish my float! Hehe. I would indeed have insisted you try the other stuff; you would have liked it more than you think ;]

      Aw, thank you for your support 😀 Maybe someday, this dream of mine can come true.

  13. July 25, 2010 9:44 pm

    Miss Amber you have been sooo busy! I’m sorry I missed some of these posts in real time, you’ve been eating fabulously as usual and it seems like totally rubbing shoulders! 🙂 Ever get that you look like Evan Rachel Wood? 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      July 26, 2010 12:56 pm

      Rubbing shoulders indeed, my proverbial shoulders were rubbed raw by the end of that night! Hehe. You know, I’ve never gotten Evan Rachel Wood before! Usually it’s Jewel. But that’s cool that you thought Evan! I’m a longtime Mansonite, so I suppose it’s appropriate in that way as well 😛

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