Story by Vanessa Wolf
Salted almond macaroons, tangelo vanilla macadamia milk, quinoa maki nori rolls with avocado, local vegetable bouillabaisse with roasted red pepper and saffron aioli. . . . these are just a few of the deceptively decadent-sounding recipes Chef Renee Loux will share at the Food First Institute, classes designed to prove that food that’s good for you can taste great.
A renowned organic chef, Loux has authored cookbooks, taught at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City, and appeared on numerous cooking shows. In 1996, the former Maui resident founded of one of America’s first raw-food restaurants, Raw Experience, in Pa‘ia.
Now the host of TV’s It’s Easy Being Green is back on Maui to return the favor.
Loux has created three noncredit classes for different skill levels — kitchen novice, accomplished home cook, and professional chef — each with the goal of teaching how to prepare healthy gourmet fare.
The timing couldn’t be better. The demand for raw, vegan, gluten-free and other alternative cuisines has become increasingly mainstream. In addition to allergy and animal-welfare concerns, studies cited in the October 2012 issue of Food Technology suggest that plant-based diets significantly reduce an individual’s genetic propensity to develop diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Adopting a plant-based diet is a whole lot easier when the food tastes delicious.
Chris Speere, external coordinator for Maui Culinary Academy at UH Maui College, has been working with Loux to create the Food First Institute, whose classes will be held in the Academy’s professional kitchen. He says even seasoned chefs will find Loux’s preparations inspiring. “I’m amazed at how vibrant and fresh food can be when we approach it from a different perspective.”
Level One ($114 + $39 materials fee) will be held February 2 from noon to 4:30 p.m., and is appropriate for culinary beginners. Loux says this demonstration-only class “will be like watching the Food Network in person and then getting to eat everything that’s been made.” In addition to preparing dishes like chocolate avocado mousse, Loux will share tips and tricks that students can try at home.
Level Two ($249 + $69 materials fee), held February 8 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., is a hands-on class for those with at least five years’ culinary experience.
Level Three, February 22 and 23, is for professional chefs.
Loux and Speere hope to offer future Food First Institute classes. Sign up for February’s at 808-984-3231 or email Pecks@hawaii.edu.