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105degrees, L1/W1/D1: pesto beet ravioli

October 25, 2010

Greetings! Quick FYI: this post’s title reflects that today was “Level I, Week 1, Day 1” of my training at 105degrees. Capische? Until/unless I decide to name posts more creatively, this is how each one will be titled.

Arriving at 8am, I was greeted by Level I instructor Russell James, and given my ill-fitting-but-still-snazzy chef’s coat.

The training room of the Academy is, like the rest of 105degrees, clean and bright, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows running along the side of the building. Appliances and sinks line another wall, and here’s the third wall, full of wheatgrass and bananas.

The fourth wall holds shelves of glass containers filled with all manner of tasty, intriguing, and colorful ingredients.

Each of us (only four today, but all seven students should be present in the next day or two) received our own chef’s knife, paring knife, and knife bag. Much of the early part of the day was spent on knife skills, and here I got a bit of a rude awakening: I am apparently not very good with a chef’s knife! I seemed to take longer than the others in perfecting my baton, dice, julienne, and brunoise cuts, mostly because I seem to have a hell of a time slicing the edges off a carrot into a perfect square shape. (Mine kept ending up as retarded trapezoid-looking thingies.) I know I can’t be too hard on myself…I’ve been using a large Santoku-style knife at home for 2+ years, so it feels quite different to handle a chef’s-style knife. Being the perfectionist that I am, though, it frustrated me quite a bit. I did much better with basil, red peppers, and onions; it’s those damn carrots that are my nemeses! But hey, I have 8 weeks ahead of me in which to master knife skills, right? Right.

Luckily, Russell’s quite patient, and he never rushed us through anything.

My other issue was with the mandoline slicer, and/or beets. I don’t have a mandoline at home and haven’t used one in years, AND I’m not a big fan of beets, so slicing beets ON a mandoline was a little laborious. In the end, though, my beet ravioli wrappers wound up looking pretty nice, and my pistachio-pine nut pesto was delicious (if I may say so!).

We topped our pesto filling with more paper-thin beet slices, and finished our ravioli with some oregano-pignoli cream.

So, despite the day’s earlier vexations, my work was rewarded with a great-looking AND -tasting platter of raw ravioli. Maybe I don’t dislike beets after all!

48 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt permalink
    October 25, 2010 8:39 pm

    Aww, you look adorable. Now, you just need one of those big floppy chef’s hats. ;-P

    I laughed when I saw all that wheat grass. Didn’t you just comment to me the other day on how you disliked it while making a cute, squished up face?

    You’ll get better with the knives. No problem. I believe in you!


    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 25, 2010 9:39 pm

      Hehe, nah, our skullcaps are more stylish than those 😛

      Indeed I did! It’s definitely not my cup of tea, but I’m willing to give it another shot…especially when Russell has us try those Miracle Berry tablets 😉

      Thanks, sweetie. I know I’ll get better, it’s just hard for me to not be the best and fastest at everything, for once! That sounds bad, but I know you know what I mean. 🙂

  2. October 25, 2010 9:01 pm

    Yummmmmmm! I just made some raw veggie sushi with beets. I like that root so much. I got my hubs to eat three wedges of sushi with beets so score!

    You look like you are having fun already!!!!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 25, 2010 9:40 pm

      Ooh, I wonder if we’ll put beets in our raw sushi! I like that idea. Why is it that so many men are so squeamish about sushi?! Mine is too. 😛

  3. October 25, 2010 9:04 pm

    Yay Amber! I’m so excited for you. What you’re doing sounds like so much fun, and will make you into less of a great cook and more of an amazing chef 🙂 I look forward to hearing all about it!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 25, 2010 9:41 pm

      Thank you Tara! That means a lot 😀 I hope to return to KC a raw vegan chef extraordinaire!

  4. October 25, 2010 9:15 pm

    I”m fairly certain I saw that snazzy chef’s coat on a Prada runway recently. 99% sure, actually. 🙂

    I love raw beets (and roasted beets, but not the canned sickly sweet kind), so I would’ve been all over your platter. (That sounds a bit naughty. But this is me and you, so why wouldn’t it sound so?! :P)

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 25, 2010 9:44 pm

      ::snort:: Oh right…right. I’ll Youtube that posthaste. 😉

      I don’t believe I had ever tried a raw beet before today, and I know I’d done my damnedest to avoid cooked beets. The fact that I really enjoyed this ravioli is a good sign of things to come. Who KNOWS what I’ll learn to like next?! Mint? Orange? Mushrooms? (Just not salads.)

      HA! Even better, the word “platter” strikes me as vaguely sexual. Maybe cuz it’s so close to “splatter”? Ok, I may have gone too far now. 😛

      • October 25, 2010 9:49 pm

        If you ever start spruiking orange with chocolate, we might have to rethink our soulsister thing. You’ve been warned.

        And really? Splatter? I would’ve thought it would be because platter sounds like testicle.

        HAH! Psych! It totally doesn’t. But now I’ve said testicle.

        • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
          October 25, 2010 9:52 pm

          Duly noted. ::nods gravely::

          Hehe! I’d respond in kind, but I figure I’d better first find out how many sex words it takes for Google to categorize my blog as having “adult content.” 😛

  5. October 25, 2010 9:37 pm

    You sure look cute in your chef’s coat…doesn’t look ill-fitting in the picture though. Those are very appealing, colorful “raviolis”. How fun. I’m sure you’ll be wielding those knives like an expert in no time. Ha! You perfect everything!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 25, 2010 9:47 pm

      Thanks…except it definitely IS ill-fitting. They’re cut pretty straight, so it’s snug in the chest and hips but very loose in the waist and arms. That’s what I get for being female, I suppose. But it’s alright; it’s actually pretty comfy.

      I definitely hope to improve my knife skills sooner rather than later. Starting tomorrow!

  6. October 25, 2010 10:33 pm

    I wish I was one of those soon-to-arrive students. I need help with my knife skills too. I have finally mastered the mandoline, but I nearly cut off my fingers in the process. Good luck!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 26, 2010 5:49 pm

      I wish you were, too! We’d have a great time 🙂

      Yeah, I think I need a bit more practice with the mandoline (WITH the guard on!) before I feel completely good about it.

  7. October 25, 2010 10:40 pm

    Congrats on completing your first day! That must have been so exciting!
    I probably would have sliced my finger off using that knife and mandolin!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 26, 2010 5:51 pm

      Thanks! It was 🙂

      Haha, nooo! At least not a whole finger – but maybe a fingerNAIL? I cut one of mine off. 😛

  8. Mindy permalink
    October 26, 2010 12:13 am

    Great first report! This will be such an amazing adventure, and I look forward to experiencing it vicariously as I read along and look at your photos. Just do your best to relish every minute. You are SO very fortunate to be doing this. No telling how many raw chef wannabes are out there who would give anything to be where you are. Probably worth remembering when the frustration hits.

    The ravioli looks fantastic. There are so many veggies (like beets) that I never even tried, much less thought I would enjoy, till I started eating a lot of raw food. What a joy to be enjoying all of this vibrant color and interesting textures while most everyone else in this country is sitting around thinking, “Well, what’ll it be: Pizza Hut or McDonald’s; Swanson or Lean Cuisine? We are so lucky.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 26, 2010 5:57 pm

      Thank you, Mindy! Believe me, I feel grateful every day for this opportunity. It seems like just yesterday I was lamenting the feeling that it would never happen, and wishing and hoping with all my being that it could… Now that I’m here, you can bet I’m relishing every moment. And you’re right – thinking of it that way does help put my silly frustration into perspective. 🙂

      You’re also SO right about how wonderful it is to have a bounty of colorful, beautiful, FRESH food at our fingertips. Much of the world isn’t so lucky, and much of America is too busy eating their Big Macs to even care. =/

  9. October 26, 2010 1:32 am

    Ow, OW! Lookin’ good in that chef’s coat, Amber! Heck, that’s reason enough for me to enroll!

    Those raviolis look fab, too, by the way. Send some my way.

    I am not skilled with slicin’ and dicin’ and choppin’ and juliennin’ or any other style. Well, I guess I’m decent at the “rough chop.”

    I’ve been cleaning out clutter and today I was going through some old Vegetarian Times magazines. I found one from last October with a little blurb about 105 Degrees openings its school.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 26, 2010 5:59 pm

      HA! Maybe we should just use the prep counter as a runway instead 😛

      I’m great at the “rough chop” too, haha!

  10. October 26, 2010 2:10 am

    Heh….they really don’t make chef’s jackets in female sizes….like, ever (whould you open your own culinary school, I recommend inventing them!). The raviolis look awesome, and you’ll learn your knife skills in due time. Hell, I still struggle, and carrots are little orange beasts to cut up. I find it funny that you don’t have a mandoline already–LOVE mine! SUCH a time saver 😀

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 26, 2010 7:19 am

      You got it! 😛 Those carrots ARE beastly. I miss my Santoku 😦

      It IS pretty ridiculous that I have a KitchenAid, a Vitamix, a dehydrator, a spiralizer, and about 100 other gadgets…but no mandoline! Must get one as soon as I’m home. 🙂

  11. October 26, 2010 4:01 am

    I am so jealous. Looking forward to reading about your studies for the next 8 weeks. I hope you are not too tired to blog every day!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 26, 2010 7:20 am

      I hope so too! That’s my plan; we’ll see if I can keep it up. 🙂

  12. October 26, 2010 5:55 am

    Those ravioli are beautiful, but I’m not sure I could wrap my mouth around enjoying raw beets. Hm… super duper earthy.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 26, 2010 7:22 am

      You know, I thought the same thing. All the way through making them, I was thinking “…but beets? Ehh…” However, when they were sliced this thinly, they really didn’t have a strong flavor at all. They were just mild, crispy little sheets of veggie that were there to support the more assertive pesto. 🙂

  13. thymebombe permalink
    October 26, 2010 7:47 am

    Looks like fun! HATE beets. Every time I see them I think “I know I hate these, but they’re so red and beautiful, I must have just had a bad one (x12),” and then I take a bite and instead of the luscious juicy red flavor my brain expects I get fruity rotten potato dishwater. Sigh. But your beet raviolis are so pretty I’d still have to try one!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 26, 2010 6:01 pm

      Ah, I’ve thought those same things about beets (though I almost never put myself in a position of having to taste them!)…”fruity rotten potato dishwater” – HA! Yes! What a way to put it!

      I don’t know how to explain it, but when they were sliced that thinly, they almost had no flavor at all, and the texture was more delicate, not at all potato-ey. As a fellow beet skeptic, I can vouch for these ravioli!

  14. October 26, 2010 9:45 am

    wow, what an elegant and beautiful dish! Looks perfect for christmas!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 26, 2010 6:02 pm

      Oh wow, you’re so right! I didn’t even think of how Christmas-y the colors are. 🙂

  15. October 26, 2010 10:42 am

    Oh my Amber, I am going to love reading your posts!!! Oh it takes me back! Please say hi to Russell for me! Oh I miss everything about that place!!!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 26, 2010 4:54 pm

      Glad to hear you’re reading, Robyn! Hop on board the 105 train – first stop, memory lane… 😉

  16. October 26, 2010 11:28 am

    Wow Chef Amber Shea 🙂 That dish looks awesome. Too funny about the carrots, but you’ll have them mastered before you know it. They would kick me out the door with my knife cutting skills, or lack of…ha Sounds like you had a great first day! BTW…you look cute in your snazzy chef’s coat. :o)

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 26, 2010 6:04 pm

      Aw, hehe! The moniker is probably a little premature, but nonetheless, I’m tickled to read it 😀

      Luckily, they let me back in the door today after my shoddy showing with the chef’s knife yesterday. Phew!

      And thanks re: the chef’s coat, though I must disagree with you there 😛

  17. kathleen permalink
    October 26, 2010 12:51 pm

    hm. i love beet greens. hate beets. maybe i don’t make them right? awesome that you get to eat the food you make. i always wondered about that. there’s a le cordon bleu a few blocks from me. there’s windows so you can look in and i always see a ton of people in chefs outfits and a ton of cookies/pastries stacked everywhere and every time i go by i wonder if they get to eat those.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 26, 2010 6:07 pm

      I have to imagine much of it is preparation technique. There are more BAD ways to prep a veggie than GOOD ways, if you think about it. Slicing these beets paper-thin made all the difference in the world to my palate.

      We do get to eat the dishes we make! But we’re not allowed to snack as we go, and although we can taste for seasoning here and there, big bites are discouraged…do you know how hard it is to kick a spatula-licking habit?! 😛

  18. October 26, 2010 3:21 pm

    Oh, what fun! Is that kombucha on those top shelves?

    The chef coat looks very snazzy but uncomfortable (why is cheffing still a male world)? But it’s that knife case and those beautiful knives that I really covet! I’m such a knife-fiend. Hope you have a good sharpening steel in there too.

    I love my mandolin! I hope you come to love yours too. But beets really take on a whole new life when mandoline’d so very thin, so I hope you’ll come to enjoy it.

    How neat that you have such a small class too!


    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 26, 2010 6:11 pm

      Indeed it is! In Level I we’ll be doing coconut water kefir, but I have wait for Level 2 to get to kombucha-making. 🙂

      You would think that by now they’d make fitted women’s chef coats! The knives are the gear that’s truly covet-able, though; you’re quite right. They shouldn’t need sharpening for six months, but once I get home I’m going to need to invest in the necessary sharpening tools…as well as a mandoline! Clearly, it’s time to add one to my kitchen.

  19. October 26, 2010 6:46 pm

    Those ravioli are absolutely gorgeous!! I am sure you’ll get the carrots down soon – they are a pain to cut, so I can’t blame you there. At least your instructor isn’t rushing you guys through it or anything – that is the worst!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 26, 2010 6:51 pm

      Thank you!! They were tasty, too. 🙂

      Luckily, I’ve already gotten better at carrot-cutting…what a difference a night of restful sleep makes!

  20. Jacki permalink
    October 26, 2010 8:52 pm

    Your ravioli looks fantastic. Russell converted my from hating beets to enjoying them; he is a magician.
    I’m enjoying memory lane also.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 26, 2010 9:38 pm

      Thanks Jacki! Russell is already working his magic on me too, from beets to zucchini to kimchee 😀

      Glad to help you relive great memories. 🙂 Feel free to chime in with your own stories!

  21. October 27, 2010 10:05 am

    those ravioli’s look delish and beautiful too!! yum!!!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 27, 2010 5:07 pm

      Thank you! 😀

  22. October 27, 2010 2:41 pm

    Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!!!!! First day done!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 27, 2010 5:08 pm


  23. November 1, 2010 2:26 pm

    Ok, so I know how you feel being not so ‘on’ the net while at school because I have been absolutely without internet for the last almost two weeks! Either way, we are at a hotel that has free internet so I’m catching up on my email which means I’m catching up on your adventures. LOVE!!! I am so so excited for you and so jealous! Wish I could be there too… I love your new digs… truly not bad at all. This is such an amazing experience and I can’t wait to read more and that’s good because I have more emails to catch up on! Keep us posted!! 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 1, 2010 4:22 pm

      Ahh, I SO understand “playing catch-up.” I hope you’ve been enjoying Italy, and I’m glad you’re liking my posts about 105! 😀

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