I’d heard about it. I’d read about it. I’d researched it online. I’d seen tales of it on other blogs, both from those who have dined there (like Kristen) and those who have actually attended the academy (like Michelle and Robyn). And finally, over Memorial Day weekend, I had the opportunity to visit (and stuff my face at) Matthew Kenney’s all-raw restaurant 105 Degrees in Oklahoma City, OK. The Matthew Kenney, visionary king of raw, vegan, living, organic cuisine. The 105 Degrees, a groundbreaking, state-of-the-art facility housing the first-ever school for budding raw chefs. To say I was excited would be an outrageous understatement.
Matt (my Matt, not Mr. Kenney!) and I left Kansas City after work on Friday, and finally arrived in Oklahoma City after midnight. (More on our Friday night meal later this week.) We headed into the city shortly after 11am, navigated the Classen Curve with ease, and arrived at our destination immediately awed. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows are stunning, allowing you peer right in at patrons eating in one half (the café) and students working in the other (the academy). Inside the clean, bright space, the employees were dressed smartly, and the kitchen was completely open to the dining room (no ovens, no problems!). It’s readily apparent how thoughtfully designed 105 Degrees is. Everything there, from the lighting to the bamboo tables, is eco-friendly and sustainable. The smoothie I ordered to start even came with a glass straw.
Said smoothie was called the Blue Bee Milkshake—blueberries, local honey gelato, white chocolate, and bee pollen. Yes, raw local honey gelato and raw vegan white chocolate. This was one of the best smoothies to ever pass my lips. Matt (who also sipped on a mimosa) was equally blown away by it.
Matt ordered a taco salad, which came topped with a huge fan of avocado and crumbled dehydrated corn chips. We all know I’m not a salad person, but I tried some of the corn chip bits, and they were much crunchier than I thought anything dehydrated could be.
My entrée…oh, my entrée. This raw mezze platter was absolute love at first bite. The marinated olives were herby and succulent. The eggplant chips were mildly seasoned with a crisp bite and a hearty chew. The macadamia hummus was impossibly creamy, and so rich that the mere 1/4 cup of it satisfied me. The hemp seed tabbouleh was crunchy and refreshing, and the warm nut-based falafel absolutely melted in my mouth. This was simply the best meal I could have ever hoped for at a raw food restaurant, and one of the best at any restaurant, period. “Delicious” does not even begin to tell the tale.
We would have been fools not to indulge in dessert! Matt let me choose, and I couldn’t resist the raw white chocolate mud pie. One word: DENSE. No, two words: DENSE and DIVINE. This was like an ultra-rich white chocolate fudge atop a dark brownie base, sitting beside a pool of cacao-nib-dusted ganache. In other words, an orgasm on a plate. We both utterly adored this.
I browsed through the shop for a few minutes, gazing longingly at all too many items, before leaving, sated and giddy with raw glee. As I’m sure Matt would tell you, I couldn’t stop talking about this meal…which is why it’s not surprising at all that we stopped back by 105 Degrees again on our way home Monday. (More about the days in between later this week.) I called ahead, and we picked up a couple smoothies. Matt got the Antiox-C (left), a blend of orange, lime, goji berries, black cherries, and raspberries, and I had the Maca Pitchu (right), containing raspberries, cacao nibs, maca powder, banana, and coconut butter. As Matt declared, “These raw people sure do know how to do smoothies, I’ll say that!”
(There’s another example of 105 Degrees’ eco-consciousness—those cups and straws are made of 100% corn and are designed to biodegrade in 30 days or less. Wow!)
I also got myself a takeout dinner of raw sesame noodles—kelp noodles (which I jumped for joy at the chance to finally try!) tossed in an almond butter sauce with spiced cauliflower, sweet peas, green onions, and spicy cashews. The slight crunch of the kelp noodles caught me off guard at first, but I soon began to savor the unique texture. Though the noodles are practically calorie-free, all the other elements of this dish combined to make it extremely filling—it took me two sittings to finish it off.
I just can’t say enough about 105 Degrees. It represents the very best in raw food and imaginative, nutritious culinary innovation. Five hours south of KC, it’s so close, yet so far away!
I’ll admit right here and now that I have a (no-longer-so-)secret dream of attending the 105 Degrees Academy. If I could guarantee it’d net me a lucrative career in food, I’d do it in a heartbeat. In the meantime, I’ll probably look at these pictures often and sigh at the perfection of the masterpieces I was lucky enough to get to eat there, all the while plotting how (and how soon) I can get back.
In my next entries, I’ll backtrack a bit and show you the rest of our Memorial Day weekend road trip to Dallas.
* * * UPDATE!! * * *
There I was, finishing up my workday, when my email pinged with a new item. What I discovered in my inbox was something I never expected…a Facebook message from Matthew Kenney himself!
Aaahh! To a food nerd like me, a personal email from Matthew Kenney is like an email from Elvis. Or Jesus. Provided either of them had internet access, of course. Anyway, I was totally thrilled—it made my day! Matthew, 105 Degrees deserves all the flattery one can heap upon it, and then some. Thank YOU for creating such an incredible foodie paradise!