Raw Foods Restaurant Pioneers Cattle Country

Amidst all the steakhouses in Oklahoma City, a new restaurant touts a completely different cuisine. Host Scott Simon travels there to experience raw food at its finest.

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: That's sounds about as promising as opening a kosher deli in Tehran.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: That's a fair comment.

: That's Tara Prattus, who's opened a raw foods restaurant just a few acres away from the Okalahoma City stockyards. Talk about chutzpah. Restaurant and raw foods academy called 105degrees, which is as hot as anything gets in their kitchen - if a raw foods restaurant can be said to have a kitchen. Because food begins to cook above that temperature, and the whole idea of raw foods is not to cook.

Ms. Prattus's grandfather was a cattle rancher. She thinks that Oklahoma's cattle culture may be exactly the reason her raw foods restaurant has become popular.

: Sometimes the tried-and-true meat and potatoes eaters, maybe being encouraged by their wives to come with them here, or their husband, and they, without fail, say after the meal: I am so pleased with the experience I just had. And I am so much more full than I expected to be.

: You're a lawyer by training?

: I am.

: So what piece of celery did you eat that dazzled you so much you got interested in raw food?

: Well, it was certainly never on my own personal career path to get into the food business. I'm just a person who believes that you should really try to effectuate the change that you think can actually affect lives in a positive way.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

: Both the restaurant and the food are cool, calm and lovely in appearance, with eye-popping, raw tomato reds and bitted uncooked greens. We asked Alyssa White(ph), Trudy White(ph), Cathy Balwart(ph) and Laura Patterson(ph) what they had for lunch.

: I had a blue corn tortilla tostado, and it was absolutely incredible, and beautifully presented.

: I had a pizza that was really great. It had mushrooms, and it was made out of a pecan crust.

: How do they make crust, tostados, or anything that goes crunch in a raw foods restaurant? It's not flame and heat but stainless steel dehydrators that lift moisture out of foods and make them go snap. Crusts seem to be commonly made from ground nuts. Tara Prattus took us into the raw foods academy kitchen, which looks as fresh and immaculate as an operating theater. No sizzle, splat and smoke but a lot of chopping, whirring and swirling from blenders.

What's the foliage I see on the shelf?

: That's wheat grass. That wall actually is our sprouting wall.

: A student named Hillary Gwen Cobbett(ph), from Dallas, was preparing the meal that amounts to the final exam of her three-week raw foods course.

: I am making a banana corn coriander chowder followed by a raw taco, a soft shell taco with guacamole and sour cream and salsa. And then for dessert, an Aztec-spiced chocolate mousse with vanilla cream.

: My God, that sounds good. What speaks to you about raw food cuisine?

: I guess it's healthier; it's beautiful. I feel more energetic after I eat. I don't feel like laying down. It's just - I'm not 100 percent raw vegan, but I think that a heavy part of it in your diet definitely impacts your health and how you feel.

: When you say 100 percent raw vegan - you're from Dallas.

: Right.

: Doesn't mean you have an occasional chicken fried steak, does it?

: Absolutely.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: Tara Prattus doesn't make extravagant health claims for raw foods. It might also help to position her restaurant as a kind of palate cleanser between Oklahoma sirloins. She also recognizes that the foods we love can be intensely personal, tied to a time of life, person, a memory - a mother's Sunday meatloaf or enchiladas, a grandmother's mashed potatoes. Tara Prattus says there are raw comfort foods.

: We actually have, quote-unquote, mashed potatoes that are made from jicama and pine nuts, and they are rich and comforting in the same sort of emotional way that you might associate with mashed potatoes. There are definitely raw comfort foods.

: I'm just imagining your kids years from now coming back from school - MIT, I'm sure, or Culinary Institute of America - saying, boy, can't wait to get home and have my mom's jicama and pine nut mash.

: Let's hope.

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