When I heard the word ‘raw food’ for the first time I admit that I knew very little about it. I just figured it to be a bunch of raw vegetables. But then Lorena Loriato, Italian raw food chef and teacher in London, gave me the recipe of raw spaghetti al ragù. I bet you’re curious about that! So keep reading.
You moved from the music business into food. How did it happen?
‘I have always followed my passions. I loved foreign languages so I had a Degree in Language Interpretation and Translation. But I couldn’t find a job in that field so I embraced another passion of mine, music, working as a press agent. Food has always been an important issue for me. When I was younger, I used to suffer from depression which led me to eating disorders. My family and friends supported me and I found out that I couldn’t fight against food. Instead we had to be friends. I first became vegetarian and then I got into raw food. I just listened to what my body naturally needed. I was excited about that so I experimented with my own recipes. My lifestyle changed and thanks to raw food I solved my health issues’.
Why did you choose London?
‘My boyfriend wanted to experience another country so we moved to London. I had already decided to move to the raw food business but I didn’t have any experience or qualification in food and raw food so I had to get by. I had been told that there was a developed raw food scene in London but actually this was happening in Italy as well.’
Which difficulties did you have to face in London?
‘I had a high experience in the music business but none in the raw food, so I was a nobody. Fortunately, free enterprise gets support in the UK. So I was not crazy, even though I had decided to start my own small business. I joined raw food classes and kept doing my ‘experiments’ even though many had shut the door on me. I got in contact with an Italian raw food chef and I trained with him. London scared me because I was a ‘country girl’.’
How much do people know about raw food in Italy and in UK?
‘When we usually talk about raw food we mean vegan raw food, but in Italy we have a huge combination of raw fruit and vegetables and recipes. But raw food as a trend is more developed in London (but not in UK)’.
What dish describe you and why?
‘A slice of watermelon! It is so simple and fresh. I like simple things but in London simplicity in food is not so much appreciated. Italians have a more refined taste, while English people sometimes need rich portions’.
How can you cook an Italian classic like spaghetti al ragù using raw food technique?
‘I am a vegan raw food supporter. We don’t cook anything, we heat up some ingredients using the drier that reproduces the effects the sun and air do. We don’t heat the ingredients more than 46° so the characteristics of the food don’t change. As far as ragù is concerned, I can’t cook the ingredients for many hours like my grandmother would do. I use carrots and mushrooms which give the taste of meat, walnuts or almonds, celery and tomatoes and I chop them up. I add tomato sauce and I put all in the drier. Spaghetti are not made of pasta because we don’t use any wheat - it’s gluten-free - but I use either zucchini or any long vegetable, and thanks to a machine I can get them cut in spaghetti.
What do you like most about your job as a chef?
‘I help people doing better. When I suffered from depression I improved a lot when I started eating raw food. My neurotransmitters didn’t communicate to each others because I didn’t feed them appropriately. And this made me feel depressed too. Thanks to raw food I started to have the food in its deeper nature. So I teach people to feel better when they embrace raw food’.
What’s the biggest achievement you had thanks to your job?
‘When my niece comes to my house, she can eat anything she likes, even if she is celiac. That’s a huge satisfaction for me. She can eat the cakes I make because they are gluten-free. Also, I feel good when the people I teach to embrace raw food as food habit and can solve health problems’.
What dish bring you back to Italy?
‘Raw food pizza! It is made with zucchini, buckwheat and linen seeds’.
Which ingredient you cannot live without (both in the kitchen and in your life)?
‘Raw cocoa delights me! I cannot live without joy which makes you see things with different eyes’.
What kind of music do you listen to in the kitchen?
‘I listen to jazz or Einaudi when I have to create a new recipe’.