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105degrees, Level I: graduation

November 20, 2010

I am now a certified raw vegan chef. YES!
Here’s how graduation night went.
My official Raw Indian Feast menu…

First course:

Mango lassi

Second course:

Cauliflower-spinach pakoras
“Fried” vegetable dumplings with trio of dipping sauces:
mango chutney, cucumber-mint raita, tamarind butter

Third course:

Paneer tikka masala
Paneer-style cheese and vegetables in a coconut-tomato curry, with rice pilaf and garlic naan

Fourth course:

Gulab jamun and kheer
Warm pastry spheres with crushed pistachios in rosewater syrup,
cardamom-spiced rice pudding

The assembled meal:

We each presented and explained our dishes to the judging panel.

The hustle and stress of preparation was finally over! We were a tired, but happy, bunch.

Matt came to graduation, as did my parents.

As the judges sampled all our dishes behind closed doors, I served my meal to my guests in the dining room, and sat with them as they ate. Matt and I ordered a couple drinks: a Key Lime Pie sake-tini for me, and a strawberry-citrus Prettier in Pink cocktail for Matt (yes, seriously! And he had no shame about it, either).

After a good two hours, we were allowed back into the room to hear our critiques. I’m thrilled to report that I got ZERO negative, or even so-so, feedback on any component of my meal! Russell said my lassi was smooth, thick, and just sweet enough. They thought my pakoras turned out great, with a nice, crisp exterior, and my dipping sauces, especially the raita, had great flavor to them. They were all impressed with the paneer in my curry (which I created by making raw “tofu” out of cashews and Irish moss, chilling the block, then cubing and dehydrating it), and said the spices in the sauce were really nicely balanced and not at all bitter. Russell pointed out that the whole plate was a great combination of differing textures: the smooth curry, the somewhat-crunchy cauliflower “rice,” and the tender-but-chewy naan. Finally, Russell said my dessert was the highlight for him; my gulab jamun were dehydrated to just the right point, my syrup contained the perfect amount of rosewater (an easy ingredient to overdo), and my chia-seed “rice” pudding was remarkably creamy, with a wonderful mouthfeel and, again, just the right level of sweetness. YAYYY! SUCCESS!

Russell presented each of us with our diplomas…

…and we said our goodbyes – I’m the only one of the group moving on to Level II.

All in all, I couldn’t be happier with how well this meal, and the whole month, went. I feel more than ready to step up my raw game and kick some ass in Level II! Class starts a week from Monday. In the meantime, I’m going to try to relax just a little, and I’ve got some fun posts lined up for Thanksgiving week. Right now, Matt and I are en route to Dallas for one night, where we’ll be dining at Blass Raw Café (which I’ve written about here and here). They contacted me last night with a congratulatory offer of dinner, drinks, and dessert on the house! Is that an awesome graduation gift, or what?! You’ll hear all about it next week.

This is Chef Amber Shea, signing off!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and hint hint: stop by tomorrow for a cool giveaway!

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68 Comments leave one →
  1. November 20, 2010 6:21 pm

    Congratulations, Amber!! You must be psyched 🙂 The meal looks absolutely wonderful, I hope you’re very proud. Have a great night at Blass Cafe!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 9:40 am

      Thanks so much! I’m quite proud indeed 😀

  2. Tracy permalink
    November 20, 2010 6:25 pm

    Congratulation Amber, I’ve really enjoyed reading all of your blogs and seeing you succeed in the classes! It must be an awesome feeling to have the judges enjoy your creations that much!

    I can’t wait to see what you do in Level 2!!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 9:41 am

      Thank you Tracy! I was very flattered by and happy with the judges’ comments.

  3. November 20, 2010 6:28 pm

    congrats! that is so exciting.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 9:44 am

      Thanks Lauren!

  4. November 20, 2010 6:39 pm

    way to go!!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 9:48 am

      Thank you Alissa! I’ve joined the ranks 😛

  5. November 20, 2010 6:48 pm

    Huge congratulations! The meal looks fantastic!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 9:48 am

      Thanks Hillary! 😀

  6. November 20, 2010 7:04 pm

    Congratulations!!! I am very impressed by the rave reviews your final meal received. I can’t wait to see what you create in Level II.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 9:49 am

      Thank you Lisa!

  7. S Kovacik permalink
    November 20, 2010 7:17 pm

    Amber, I am so happy for you! I have been reading your posts since you began your 105degrees journey. Everything looks amazing and I can’t wait to try some of your creations when you are creating them here in KC! CONGRATULATIONS!!! On to Level II!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 9:57 am

      Thank you Mrs. K! I’m so glad you’ve been reading 🙂

  8. November 20, 2010 7:27 pm

    YUM!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 9:58 am

      Thanks 😀

  9. November 20, 2010 7:36 pm

    Congrats! So proud of you! You’ve inspired me so much and I know you will continue to inspire others. Thank you so much for sharing your 105 journey with us, it’s such a privilege to see the inside from your eyes. Enjoy level 2!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 9:59 am

      Thank you so much, Aimee. It’s been a pleasure to share this experience with you, and it will be wonderful sharing Level II as well!

  10. Mindy permalink
    November 20, 2010 7:38 pm

    Congratulations Amber! What a night and what an awesome surprise graduation gift. I certainly never doubted you at all. You’re obviously a real natural as a chef. Enjoy your coming week off.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:01 am

      Aw, Mindy, thank you 🙂 If I am indeed a natural, as you say, I’m happy to have found my calling!

  11. November 20, 2010 7:55 pm

    WOWOWOWOWO congrats! I am thinking of doing this: http://www.creativehealthinstitute.com/intern_opp.html

    COngrats on your graduation and how exciting to find out about your next level. Your dishes looked great. I would have skipped everything and gotten to dessert. It sounds lovely!

    Congrats also on the celebratory dinner you get. Very nice dear.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:02 am

      Wow, I’ve never heard of that place! I do know who Ann Wigmore is, though – sounds like a very cool program!

      Dessert was my favorite too 😉

  12. November 20, 2010 8:32 pm

    Congratulations!!! I SO want to go to school at 105 Degrees! How did you afford it?! I’m very excited to hear about what you end up doing with your new Certification! And the blog is great!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:04 am

      Hehe, well, the “affording it” part was the sticking point for me for a long time, but luckily I found some helpful avenues.

      We’ll see where I go and what I do after 105!

  13. November 20, 2010 8:44 pm

    Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations! My darling, I am SO proud of you. And how utterly fabulous to have earned nothing but positive feedback for your amazing(-sounding, and clearly -tasting) menu of wonderment!

    I’m sure this has only strengthened your knowledge that you’re doing the absolute right thing, and that everyone who matters is behind you 150% percent.

    Enjoy your week of relaxing, and also, hurrah for seeing your parents! 😀

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:04 am

      Thank you thank you thank you!! I AM confident, now more than ever, that I did the right thing in dropping everything and taking the risk to come to 105. I’m starting to truly believe it will pay off in spades. 🙂

  14. November 20, 2010 9:03 pm

    Fabulous!! Congratulations Amber! Your graduation meal looks amazing – WOW! I will be visiting 105 on Nov 30th, so I hope I can sneak in to visit you at the Academy!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:07 am

      Thank you Penni! That is GREAT that you’ll be visiting on 11/30! I’ll have class from 3-9pm, but let me know when you’re getting there and maybe we can meet up before or after! And of course, I’m sure it won’t be a problem for you pop into the Academy and say hello 😀

  15. November 20, 2010 9:29 pm

    Woohoo! That is awesome! Congrats!! 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:07 am

      Thanks Aimee!

  16. November 21, 2010 12:40 am

    Congrats on being a certified raw food chef!! You know… I’m going to be in KC in December, so I’d be happy to be a taste-tester for you if you need an extra one. 😉

    Hope you enjoy your week off!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:08 am

      Ooh, when in December? I’m getting home from 105 on Christmas Eve, and am free the whole following week! If you’ve got any space in your schedule, let me know, and maybe we could fill said space with raw sweet treats 😉

  17. November 21, 2010 2:32 am

    Yay congrats!! I’ve been following your raw food creations, they look absolutely amazing you should be so proud! Love your blog 🙂
    Kate

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:09 am

      Hey Kate, thanks for following! I am very proud; thank you!!

  18. November 21, 2010 3:06 am

    Congratulations! You’re awesome! I can’t wait to see your updates about level 2.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:11 am

      Hehe, thank you Fanny!

  19. November 21, 2010 8:05 am

    Congrats, Amber! Your meal looks AMAZING!! You should create an ebook of your final recipes – I’d definitely purchase it!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:11 am

      Would you really?! I must admit, that thought has crossed my mind more than once recently… 😉

  20. November 21, 2010 8:22 am

    Good work girl! wow that went by sooo quickly! I missed a bit of your posts whilst on vacation but I will enjoy looking back and enjoy Bliss Cafe, you truly deserve it! Wow you are such a talented lady.

    PS is that a key lime-tini there? Can you please have some more for me???? Ask Megan about my love for them hehexx

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:13 am

      I know! It FLEW by. Don’t worry about a thing, I know you were enjoying yourself with all those beaches and coconuts 😛

      That is most certainly a key lime-tini! So good!

  21. November 21, 2010 8:47 am

    Congratulations! I’m so happy for you.

    Now not to put any pressure on or anything, but since these are YOUR recipes, you ARE going to post them right? I soooooo want that tikka masala recipe. 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:13 am

      Hehe, actually, I’ve yet to decide how/in what venue I plan to share my recipes…but I DO plan to share them, one way or another, at some point. 😉

  22. November 21, 2010 9:42 am

    Yay! congratulations! it all looks so perfect; i never even thought about raw indian food before.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:14 am

      Thanks Jenny!

  23. gidgetnfroggi permalink
    November 21, 2010 11:33 am

    CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    can’t wait to read about your level 2 journey 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:14 am

      Thank you!! I can’t wait to WRITE it 😛

  24. November 21, 2010 1:04 pm

    Woo-hoo!!!! Congratulations on your graduation! How exciting 🙂 Your meal looks award-winning for sure. What does level 2 entail? What distinguishes it from Level 1? Level 1 looked so advanced (and delicious!) to me, I can’t imagine it getting any harder than what you’ve already done!

    Enjoy your graduation celebration week 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:15 am

      Thanks!

      In some ways, Level II will expand on and refine teachings from Level I. In other ways, though, it’ll be new stuff – wine pairings, advanced pastry, and more! I can’t wait…

  25. November 21, 2010 1:06 pm

    How did you finance your education? I’d love to go myself, but wondering what the options are?

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:16 am

      You could call the Academy and talk to Megan Massoth, the enrollment coordinator, about payment plan options – they’re very helpful and accommodating at 105! 🙂

  26. November 21, 2010 2:35 pm

    Congrats, chef Amber! No more than I had anticipated, but that doesn’t make it any less sweet and awesome.

    The meal looks gorgeous and awesome, and I love that you got to serve it to your guests.
    Now rock on level 2!
    love
    Ela

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:16 am

      Thank you so very much, Ela. I can’t believe it’s already half over…but then again, I get to do a whole other month of this stuff yet!

  27. November 21, 2010 3:14 pm

    congratulations amber 🙂 i’m so happy for you! and your meal looks delicious, of course!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:17 am

      Thank you Rachel! 😀

  28. Spumoni permalink
    November 22, 2010 1:14 am

    Dear Amber,
    I am so happy and excited for you! The fact that there were no “so-so” or negative comments about your meal confirms my suspicions of your talent 🙂
    I can’t wait to hear about level II.
    Enjoy your week off. (and yes, I found the cookie recipe, thanks).

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:17 am

      Aw ::blush:: Thank you Simone, that makes me feel so great.
      Glad you found the cookie recipe! You must tell me how you like them!

  29. November 22, 2010 11:40 am

    Congratulations!! So exciting and yes! A wonderful graduation gift 🙂 I can’t wait to hear more of your adventures 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:18 am

      I can’t wait to TELL you more! 😛 Thank you!

  30. November 23, 2010 4:59 am

    Congrats!!! What an awesome accomplishment!! YAY!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 10:18 am

      Thanks Kelly!!

  31. November 23, 2010 6:48 pm

    What a wonderful experience and amazing food you produced! So happy you shared this journey with us- cannot wait for level II!!!! And damn, you’re food looks great- as does your cocktail. yum.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 24, 2010 12:51 pm

      Thank you Lori! I’m stoked for Level II too! And the cocktails were quite tasty 😉

  32. November 23, 2010 10:12 pm

    Congratulations!!! I’ve been following along with all your amazing foods and pictures at the academy. It all looks like fun and I wish I could go! Everything you’ve made looks so delicious and of course, it always looks “too pretty to eat”! Congrats again 🙂 (my comment must be way behind…but I’m trying to catch up on my Google Reader posts)

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 24, 2010 12:55 pm

      Thanks Tanya! Glad you’ve been following along 😀 It IS tough sometimes to work so hard at making things pretty, and then just a few seconds later, destroy them! Then again, it’s a lot of fun, too. 🙂

  33. November 24, 2010 5:40 pm

    Wow! Wow! Wow!

    Congrats on moving up to Level II!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 24, 2010 6:51 pm

      Thanks Jess!

  34. November 30, 2010 3:49 pm

    Awesome job! CONGRATULATIONS!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 30, 2010 11:08 pm

      Thank you so much! 😀

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