|Budding Chef Cooks,
Writes In the Raw
By Holly Ocasio Rizzo, Chronicle Staff Writer
May 5, 1999
In the world according to Juliano, cooked food
"Look at every other creature on the planet," the
single-name chef says. "They don't even get cavities in their teeth. They're in
absolute perfect shape, and they do not eat cooked foods. That, to me, is universal
He drops another little piece of Thai coconut into a blender and
presses a button. The problem with cooking, he says, is that it zaps the digestion-aiding
enzymes in food; in compensating for the loss, the body focuses on digestion, diverting
energy from making other enzymes that cleanse and heal.
The blender's whir fills Organica, the Inner Sunset restaurant
formerly called Raw Experience that has brought him to the cusp of celebrity.
"I never drink water," he says. "You don't know what
it picks up from the pipes. Water in jugs is stagnant, and it creates packaging, which
isn't good for the planet. So I drink coconuts."
The recipe for the smoothie he's making isn't in "RAW: The
UNcook Book," a volume more than two years in the making that HarperCollins released
Saturday. The sweet-smelling combination of organic coconut, date and strawberry is
The cellular phone rings. Juliano becomes all business. The caller
talks about juicers and the possibility of wrangling Juliano an endorsement deal. After
all, Juliano's profile is rising -- a Spin magazine interview earlier this year; a page to
order his book on the Web site for actor Woody Harrelson's West Hollywood
oxygen-and-raw-foods bar, O2; and, now, book-promotion appearances set up for "Late
Night With David Letterman" and other television shows.
It's difficult to picture Juliano on such shows. Would he wear jams
and a long-sleeve Gotcha Surf Co. T-shirt, white socks and dark athletic shoes, like he's
wearing this day? Would he pull back his past-the-shoulders hair with a rubber band or let
it flow freely?
Perhaps the world will see. But his true background may remain
hidden; his biography is as soft as his science, pleasantly morphing to fit the moment.
Born Juliano Brotman 29 years ago -- he sometimes says 25 -- he was
raised in his father's meat-heavy Italian restaurant and in front of a TV set in his
parents' Las Vegas home. He quit school, he says, when he was 8. At 15, he moved with his
family to Palm Springs.
His father "fired" him from the restaurant that year for
refusing to cut his hair, he says. So Juliano, school-free, spent his days exploring
Tahquitz Canyon, a ribbon of natural oases slashed into a desert mountain.
There, the teenager had his culinary epiphany.
"An eagle soared out from the distant trees down to the pool
and ascended with a fish clamped in her talons," he writes in the preface to
"RAW." "Frogs sunbathed on giant rocks. And I, for the first time, felt a
part of nature instead of a distant bystander watching the world on the tube."
He immediately became vegetarian, he says. At 19, he became vegan,
giving up all animal products. Finally, he went raw.
"It's been four years since I ate cooked food," he says.
"For the first year-and-a-half, I cheated. I ate cooked vegan foods I made myself,
and when I did, I felt awful."
To eat raw properly, don't go cold-turkey, he advises. "You
need the grains, the rices." In "RAW," he describes raw-food preparation,
but a novice needs to seek nutrition advice elsewhere.
Juliano swears to this: Without cooking, his energy grew -- he
sleeps as little as two hours a day -- and he felt his thinking become clearer and
quicker. In search of like-minded individuals, he moved to San Francisco to join an
ayurvedic yoga center. Practitioners of ayurveda, originally a Hindu medicine system,
follow dietary recommendations such as always eating hot food in cold seasons.
"They said cooked rice is, like, 5,000 years old, and I said
raw was, like, before fire," Juliano says. "So I moved out of the yoga center
and got into the restaurant. I just opened the restaurant to eat."
His mother financed the venture, which opened in 1994, serving
meatless meatloaf made of portobello mushrooms and nuts, burritos wrapped in cabbage
leaves, and cheese-free, meat-free burgers served on breadlike sheets of sprouted
buckwheat baked 10 hours in the sun. His sister helped develop the recipes.
His celebrity clientele grew -- Robin Williams, Michael Milken,
Steve Jobs and Bryan Adams among them. He started teaching "uncooking," even
training Harrelson's O2 chef, he says. To keep up, he splits most of his time between San
Francisco and a Santa Monica community center with a raw-foods kitchen.
He's selling Organica, he says, though he'll still teach uncooking
there. "It was so much work. I just stood right there behind the counter for four
years for 15 hours a day.
"Then about a year-and-a-half later, I realized I was changing
the planet. It was like junk food, raw food, gourmet food. There were, like, nine cuisines
of the world, and now there's 10."
In Los Angeles, he works on his next career: screenwriting. He hopes
to use his raw-food talents to connect with Hollywood financial backers. And, if they
don't follow, he's still the new guru on the block preaching the gospel of clean cuisine
for long life.
"It's great to have this light feeling from eating raw,"
he says. "I needed chocolate every day of my life before. Once you eat torte made of
carob and dates, you won't even think about chocolate. And you get all this energy from
"All you have to do is change your addictions, and you're a
Organica (formerly Raw Experience Living Foods Restaurant), 1224
Ninth Ave. (near Judah Street), San Francisco; (415) 665-6519. Open for dinner, but hours
LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP INTO VEGAN
If you're thinking about living on raw alone, you'll need to prepare
before jumping in.
That's because a plants-only diet requires careful balance.
"If you're going to a vegan diet, go to a registered dietitian
or your doctor to make sure you're meeting your dietary needs," says Tammy Baker, a
registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietary Association, a national
"With careful planning and supplements, you can make a vegan
diet work. All it would take to learn how would be one visit to a doctor or a
For a wealth of basics about raw-foods diets, visit the "Living
and Raw Foods" community Web site at www.living-foods.com.
The site also will lead you to a page of information about a Bay Area raw-foodists group,
San Francisco Living Foods Enthusiasts. Reach the group's activities hot line at (415)
From "Raw: The Uncook
Book," by Juliano with Erika Lenkert (HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 1999; 288
-- 1 1/2 cups Whipped Cream (see recipe) -- 1 cup sliced
-- 1/2 cup other berries (optional)
-- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
-- 1 tablespoon chocolate mint
INSTRUCTIONS: In a serving bowl, combine the whipped cream and
berries and mix well. Drizzle the maple syrup over it and garnish with chocolate mint.
PER SERVING: 655 calories, 12 g protein, 57 g carbohydrate, 47 g fat
(4 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 15 mg sodium, 6 g fiber.
Juliano says: "To make the ultimate Whipped Cream, I like
walnuts and/or cashews best. You can use any type of nuts, but they must be raw."
Expect a slightly grainy texture and a light-brown color from the nuts.
-- 1 1/2 cups raw walnuts, cashews or nuts of your choice
-- Filtered water for soaking nuts
-- 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
-- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
-- A few drops of almond extract (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS: Put nuts in a container filled with enough water to
cover; let soak for at least 2 hours. Drain. Place nuts in a blender; add orange juice,
maple syrup and, if you wish, a few drops of almond extract. Blend, scraping down sides of
blender jar with a rubber scraper to help cream turn over. Stop and check for sweetness
and consistency; add more water if cream is still too stiff. Continue blending until
fluffy and smooth.
Yields 1 1/2 cups.
PER TABLESPOON: 45 calories, 1 g protein, 3 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat
(0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 1 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.