The living food philosophy with Chef Raw RAw

Chef Raw Raw, a.k.a. Chanah Auerbach, brings her living food philosophy to Natural Choice Cafe.

Chanah Auerbach a.k.a. Chef Raw Raw (photo credit: PETER GIETL)
Chanah Auerbach a.k.a. Chef Raw Raw
(photo credit: PETER GIETL)
Chanah Auerbach’s whole life changed when she lost her hair.
The 30-year-old chef started going bald seven years ago. Combined with debilitating stomach problems, she went to doctors to find out what was wrong.
They told her that she was perfectly healthy. “I was bald and had no ability to eat, so I was clearly not perfect,’” she recalls.
A friend told her about regeneration, the body’s ability to regenerate on a cellular level through raw foods.
She decided to give it a try.
“I wasn’t hungry and had never felt more alive,” Auerbach says. “Before that, I was always on heartburn medication and taking three-hour naps. A 23 year old shouldn’t need a long nap in the middle of the day!” The process of transitioning to a raw diet became about much more than food. She realized that the connection among mind, body and soul is affected greatly by eating.
“If my mind says ‘This is horrible for me’ when I’m eating something, my body is going to know,” she states. “If I eat something and say a blessing beforehand, and think about how that food is going to do good things for my body, then my body understands that and breaks it down in a different way. The mind is very powerful.”
AUERBACH GREW up in her family’s meat-processing plant.
“For someone as connected to energies as I am, being surrounded by tens of thousands of pounds of dead meat was a lot of dead energy to take into my body,” she recalls. “I think I kept a lot of that energy with me.”
She believes that this is part of what led to her digestive issues and hair falling out: her life-force had been drained and she was not replenishing it. She also suffered a traumatic incident at the age of 18, which she kept hidden for many years. Suppressing that event only added to her internal stagnation.
“I realized when my hair started falling out that my body was just depleted of energy,” she says. “The only food I could eat was food that was still alive. Once I changed to a living food diet, people told me I was glowing! The life force was radiating from the inside out.”
Auerbach explains that when you eat a raw fruit or vegetable, the body knows exactly what to do with it. It recognizes the nutrients and processes them accordingly.
Once the produce is cooked, though, its nutrients become altered, and on an energetic level, the life force is extinguished. It is for this reason that she refers to raw food as living food.
She is now on an 80/20 diet, which means 80 percent of her food is raw, while the rest is cooked.
“When I was eating only living food, I was so high, which was really awesome,” she states. “But in Judaism, we’re taught that our feet need to be planted in this world, and our head can be wherever we want. Because I was so up there, I needed to find a way to bring myself back to this world. I found that cooking food helped me do that.”
It was the summer of 2008, just after graduating from college, when her hair loss started becoming noticeable. She attended culinary school at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, the following year, which is the same year she took the upper hand and shaved her head, tired of wondering how much more hair she would lose.
In 2009, she joined her family’s meat business in Colorado and began selling her own line of kosher meat to local synagogues.
“I had really gotten into eating raw and I saw what an impact it had on my health,” she says. “I couldn’t continue selling something that I didn’t eat.”
She moved to California in 2010 to try her hand at being a raw chef, ending up at Whole Foods in Venice Beach with her own raw-food program. This afforded her the opportunity to talk to people and see the demand for raw, healthy food.
Auerbach finally landed in Israel in 2012 to go WWOOF-ing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). She wanted to learn about produce from the seed stage. She made aliya shortly thereafter, and the ultimate nomad was home at last.
Since moving to Israel, she has had varied experiences in her field of passion. She worked as a chef at Mitzpe Alummot, a raw food cleansing center in the Lower Galilee.
“Alummot changes people for the better,” Auerbach says. “I saw while working there that the only way for us to make lasting changes to our health is through education.”
She is currently working at the Natural Choice Cafe in Jerusalem, near the bustling Mahaneh Yehuda market.
It’s an area where fresh produce takes center stage, but Israeli eating habits don’t always match up.
“I walked into the manager’s office a month ago and asked if they would hire me as a raw-food chef,” she recalls.
“I said that I would prove there was a demand for this here in Jerusalem. I know that the people are out there because I met them in the North,” she continues.
“They’ve given me the freedom to do whatever I want and have been amazing, so I don’t want to let them down. I’m not trying to tell our customers to change their lives; I’m giving people the tools to start living healthier.”
AUERBACH’S NEWEST initiative at Natural Choice is a prix-fixe gourmet raw dinner every Thursday night.
The menu changes weekly and consists of a green drink and four courses.
“I want to make this an educational place,” she adds.
“There are a lot of possibilities here, I just need the people to tell me what they want.”
Thus far, feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. But it’s still 75 percent Anglos and 25 percent veteran Israelis, and she is hoping to penetrate Israeli society more in the future.
Israelis suffer from the same health issues as Americans: diabetes, weight and joint problems, attention issues, digestion issues and immune diseases. While people here might not be as in tune to diet trends as Americans, they are open to learning.
“In America,” she says, “if something is wrong, they tell you to pop a pill. In Israel, if something is wrong, they tell you to drink some water and get some rest.
That’s quite a blessing!” The medical diagnosis for Auerbach’s hair loss turned out to be alopecia, an autoimmune disease. Since then, her hair has fallen out and grown back nine times, each time different. One time, it grew in blue. But she embraces the opportunity to be different, even when some people make the assumption that she has cancer.
“When Hashem [God] took all my hair, I stopped being able to go through life without being noticed,” Auerbach says. “Now everywhere I go, people look at me. I can’t hide anymore. The question was whether to stand up tall and embrace who I am, or put on a wig and hide. I decided to embrace it to the fullest. It was the best thing that ever happened to me; it was a wakeup call to change my life.” 
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