|Food and Drink: Even
the pizza is raw A Californian revolutionary is eyeing London. John Hiscock tastes the
The Daily Telegraph London
August 8, 1998
THE LAST time a new cuisine was created was 200 years ago
when America invented the barbecue, states Juliano confidently, but probably erroneously.
Now, enough time has elapsed, he believes, to introduce the world to another culinary
revolution. Juliano - he uses only his Christian name - is the owner of Raw Experience, a
San Francisco restaurant devoted to using only raw vegetables, herbs and spices. He has
created an innovative, albeit strange, menu that has already attracted an ardent
As with most trends that begin in California, raw cuisine
looks as though it will not take long to spread. It has been so successful that Juliano is
opening another Raw Experience in Los Angeles in November and hopes to branch out to
London. "I'm going to nominate myself for the Nobel Peace Prize - I've invented a
whole new cuisine," he boasted, taking an afternoon break between the lunch and
dinner crowds that flock to Raw Experience, in the Inner Sunset district of the city and
on the edge of the long-time hippie hangout Haight-Ashbury.
"This is a very serious, important creation. It's not
just a couple of things here and there, it's a new way of preparing food. No animals had
to die, no electricity or gas was used and no rubbish was created because everything comes
in its own peel." Unashamedly immodest and infectiously enthusiastic, 25-year-old
Juliano runs through some of the dishes on the menu: living pizza served on a raw
buckwheat crust; "salmon" sushi made of pulped carrot; wild rice soaked in water
for 30 days, sprouting and growing as it is served; and living sun-cultured herb mock
tofu. He has even taken the traditional Mexican burrito and adapted it by wrapping
shiitake mushrooms, pine-nut cheese, cilantro and salsa in a purple cabbage leaf.
"All these recipes I've created myself," he says.
"Anything people make from regular ingredients I can make better with raw food. I
make all kinds of sushi - in fact, I do amazing things with sushi. I use every sort of nut
and seed and avocado. If I want meat I just put some Portabella mushrooms in soya sauce. I
can do anything. My food not only tastes better than anything you find at any other
restaurant but it's also much better for you. You actually feel good after eating one of
His vegetables and herbs are "bio-dynamically"
grown, which, he says, far surpasses organic farming standards because the plants are
grown farther away from each other, allowing for "improved nutrient availability
within the soil and spring water irrigating".
The front of Raw Experience's menu features a quote from
Albert Einstein: "Nothing will benefit health and increase the chances for survival
of life on earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." And Juliano is a living
advertisement for the health qualities of his food. Slim and suntanned, he wears only a
cut-off T-shirt and shorts all year round - "If I feel cold I just go for a run or do
some push- ups and I quickly warm up" - and he spurns the use of toothpaste or
shampoo and uses only oatmeal soap. "Animals never take medication or go to the
doctor and they're fine," he says. "A bar of soap is all you need."
Raw Experience is firmly established with the celebrity crowd
and regulars include Robin Williams, Danny Glover and Woody Harrelson. Juliano's recipes
are probably not to everyone's taste but I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and came away
marvelling at how something that sounds so unappetising to the average fish-and-meat eater
can taste so interesting and be so satisfying. The Italian pizza, consisting of a layer of
vegan ricotta, marinara, cured eggplant, Portabella mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, basil
leaves and spices and served on a wooden board, was delicious, as was a mango smoothie -
"they're out of this world" raved the waitress, with good reason - and a raw
torte. Others obviously think so, too. My fellow diners included a pair of middle-aged
women, a mother and her son and several groups of Generation Xers and young professionals.
The main area of the restaurant is light and airy, with
glass- topped tables and ferns giving a tropical feel. There is also an elevated area
where diners must remove their shoes before reclining on cushions Moroccan-style at low
Juliano's prices are reasonable. A set menu features:
"ancient salad"; soup with yellow tomatoes, herbs and Portabella mushrooms;
Sicilian pizza (topped with sun-dried tomatoes and cured eggplant); and a torte for pounds
20. Individual appetisers cost about pounds 4 and entrees range from pounds 7 to pounds 9.
The son of a Las Vegas restaurant owner and his vegetarian
wife, Juliano began creating his own dishes as a form of teenage rebellion against his
father's meaty recipes. "Although he cooked with meat, he was also fond of herbs and
spices so I took those into my recipes and did away with the meat," says Juliano.
"Apart from coming up with new dishes, I was creating something healthy and
His sister, Carol, who, with their mother, works at Raw
Experience, praises the energetic Juliano: "He works so hard and only sleeps about
three hours a night," she says. "He is always coming up with new ideas."
Juliano wholeheartedly endorses her comments. "I'm a genius," he says simply as
he heads back to the kitchen.
Raw Experience, 1224 Ninth Avenue, San Francisco, California
94122 (001 415 665 6519).
(Copyright 1998 (c) The Telegraph plc, London)
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