BORIS LAUSER: ON RAW FOOD & PLANT BASED CUISINE
Boris Lauser is the founder of the Raw Chef Akademie, Co.founder of the Plant Based Institute, Creative Chef in the Vikasa Yoga Resort Thailand as well as culinary advisor, coach, personality chef and cookbook author.
He started off in an unconventional way, first as an economics engineer and with a Master’s in Computer Science at the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. Italy had turned Boris into quite the foodie and soon he found himself falling headfirst into the world of food and gastronomie.
How would you describe your cooking style and the philosophy behind it? Do you have a motto?
Raw Food & Plant Based Cuisine is a new style of cuisine, whereby the nutrients are preserved by more gentle cooking techniques. At the end of the day it needs to taste great and be interesting in culinary terms, and you can have that with purely plant-based organic ingredients without a deep fryer or artificial flavors. Life is just too short to suffer bad food.
Have you established any unique cooking techniques? Are there any awards?
I haven’t rediscovered the wheel, but I have definitely made Raw Food Cuisine more popular, appealing and accessible in Germany and helped bring it out of the hippie niche. When I started out many years ago, I was one of the first that made a ripe cheese from cashew nuts and also taught this technique. Now, you can find it in supermarkets.
Which current trends do you see coming up in the culinary world?
Trends come and go, my cuisine is not built on trends but rather sustainability. Vegetable-based cuisine is clearly the diet of the future, if we don’t ignore the climate situation which unfortunately a lot of people do. It needs to taste good but be healthy, if we really want to save taxpayer money on health costs in the future. So I can only urge every restaurateur to get onboard with vegetarian cuisine as soon as possible, as the classic kitchen revolving meat will become less and less.
If you were to write a cookbook, what would it be about?
About vegetarian cuisine, naturally. Just good recipes, soul food and natural fermentation themes, my favorite theme which I have published an extensive online course.
You are working as a Raw Food & Plant Based chef. How did you start out as a chef, and at which culinary school?
I completed my first apprenticeship 11 years ago with Dr. Gabriel Cousens at the Tree of Life Center in Arizona. Afterwards, I worked in various capacities as sous chef for Radiantly Alive in Bali and in 2011 completed further education with the Matthew Kenny Academy in Oklahoma City. I specialize in healthy vegan raw cuisine with a focus on flavor and optics and I’d like to reach as many people as possible through my work, to show them that they can experience mega delicious, pure plant-based, healthy foods every day.
Many careers begin with hard times, where some people think about giving up. Were there any such moments for you in your career? If so, how did you overcome them? What would you do differently today?
The first couple of years, it was definitely always in the back of my mind to work as a freelancer at my old job as an information management consultant on the side, to have more financial security. However, I always shoved those thoughts to the side because I was conscious of the fact, that if I didn’t give 100% then I would just be average, and that was not enough for me. I wanted to be the best Raw Food chef in Germany or Europe, and to get that I needed to give my all. I did just that and I have not regretted a thing. I wouldn’t change anything.
Which situations have helped you the most in your development as a chef?
The trust and support from all of my friends, family and acquaintances. Since the very beginning I have had a wonderful group of people who believed in me that I could rely on for support. Right in the first year I had a large dinner event in the restaurant of a hotel from friends in Rome, organised from another friend in Geneva, and through that I was requested to do catering for 250 people at a festival. It was amazing to have the trust of so many people right when I was getting started: “You can do it”. And yes, it worked. 🙂Those experiences helped me greatly in the beginning to grow and learn.
What are the best and most difficult aspects of being a professional chef? How does the profession change a person?
The best thing is that I am constantly allowed to eat tasty food that I love and what is left over goes to the guests. 😉Honestly though, the most wonderful aspect and often humbling is when people have had a fantastic experience and are content and happy when they go home. It is these personal moments that keep driving me to do what I do. The most difficult? As a purely plant-based chef you are often chided or things are said out of earshot because you are “only” cooking vegetables. It can be a bit exhausting, especially if someone feels they need to justify themselves constantly. I have stopped doing that now. I just stay calm, there is always something to try out, and then the prejudices fall away and the smirk changes into a genuine smile, and that is always a beautiful moment.
What makes the raw food cuisine? Which ingredients, recipes and cooking techniques reflect its soul the best?
Raw food cuisine is a completely pure and wholesome cuisine, using unprocessed ingredients and techniques geared towards maximizing the nutrient yields of the product.
What are the constant and changing elements of Raw Food cuisine?
Raw Food cuisine is of course very vegetable intensive, so the seasons determine the ingredients. Some constant elements are all the dry ingredients such as nuts, seeds, grains, oils, spices and other flavor enhancers such as dried tomatoes, miso, soy sauce and the like.
Which lesser known spices, vegetables or tools do you use and why?
Above all else, ingredients that add body and consistency play a big role in that Raw Food cuisine as a rule is not transformed by heat or interacts with products containing gluten. Ingredients such as lecithin, guar gum, xanthan, flohsamenschalen (Plantago Ovata) or locust bean gum are the biggest help in this case. In the area of vegetables, I am a big fan of all root vegetables because there are so many possibilities, you can use them for cremes, breads and crackers, for rice-like consistencies as well as milk-like consistencies, they are true wonders of diversity. As for tools, that would be the Vitamix for me, a very important kitchen appliance, cutting machine and food dehydrator. Other appliances are the spiral cutter, ice-cream maker or Paco Jets. Vacuum machine, Sous-Vide cooker as well as siphons. A fantastic dish is composed of many different textures and consistencies and that means they need a bit of equipment to help achieve that.
What do you think is the best street food?
The best street food is what just uses seasonal, good, fresh ingredients and is easily prepared right on the street. Unfortunately, street food often degenerates into cheap food because they will just open packets and use bottled sauces. In Asia as well, it’s not always as it used to be. Thankfully, we now have a type of gourmet street food movement. It’s a bit ironic when you think about it, I have to look for the original in the gourmet area. Just good, tasty and fast.
An innovative chef needs honest feedback. Where do you find that?
Oh, after every dinner and course from the guests. That is always the best. A lot comes from social media and I often get emails from people that had eaten in the resort where I was working as Creative Chef of the Menu. That is always motivating, and confirming that you are moving in the right direction.
What should somebody be aware of if they would like to work in this field?
Passion for what you do is the basis, everything else you learn and comes from within. Have fun with what you choose to do.
What do you value in the kitchen in the realm of technology?
Since I work mainly with raw foods, I work for the most part with high-performance mixers, processors, cutters and dehydrators. A Vitamix is a must for me to create the myriad of fine consistencies. For gastronomy uses, a Paco Jet is just perfect, I love ice-creams and sorbets and the Paco has no better.
Which materials and ingredients are you using the most?
In my kitchen I really only use basic but pure ingredients. Cashews and other nuts, as well as large and small seeds are a fantastic source of fats and give body and consistency to dishes very well. Germinated buckwheat and wild rice are great carbohydrate sources, and practically all legumes are rich in protein and can be processed in a lot of different ways. I am a big fan of all fermented products with tempeh being right at the top of my list as a protein source as well as fermented milk products from plant sources. Cashew cheese or coconut yoghurt you can find on many a menu from me.
How important is the team in what you do?
The team is the main ingredient. If you are missing an ingredient for a dish, you can find a replacement and make it work somehow. If the team doesn’t meld or function just right, then it becomes difficult to get the job done. It takes a bit of magic, coordination and people skills. When everyone is in the same boat, working towards the same goal of bringing the best of their work to the guest and having fun doing it, then nothing can go wrong.
Which values do you hold highest while working in the kitchen?
Teamwork and positivity are pretty much the top of the list. Everyone is in the same boat and you need to move in a direction. If someone starts rowing slower because they are out of energy, then the others row harder to compensate. That goes without saying. You always need to give 100%, and for as long as you can otherwise everything can fly off the rails. When everyone gives their all and thinks about the team, it works. Ego shows are taboo for me.
Thanks a lot Boris, it was a blast!
For more about Boris, appointments, courses or reservations…www.borislauser.com
The Plant Based Institute was founded in order to integrate high-quality vegan cuisine to the mainstream of gastronomy, private households and public institutions in a sustainable way. The founders are for experts with many years of specialisation of the four pillars of gastronomic modern kitchen: Nico Rittenau (Nutritional Science), Boris Lauser (Raw Food), Sebastian Copien (New vegetarian cuisine) and Stina Spiegelberg (vegan pâtisserie). With an apprenticeship as a Plant Based chef & nutritionist, the Plant Based Institute offers the world’s first full-scale vegan education.
www.plant-based-institute.com / www.instagram.com/plantbasedinstitute/ If you want to find out more about Boris you can say hello on his Instagram profile @borislauser.