Dog food, on the whole, is gross. There's a reason why a common expression for a garbagey meal is that it "tasted like dog food"—it's something most chefs definitely would not want to hear about their cuisine.
Unless you're Emily Stephenson, a London-based certified whole-foods chef best known for her raw food and gluten-free supper clubs. (Example dish: kohlrabi and carrot noodles in a ginger-lime-sesame marinade, sprinkled with spring onion, coriander, and peanut powder.)
This weekend, Stephenson is lending her culinary talents to an event that will redefine "dog food" as we know it: The Curious Canine Kitchen, a "holistic pop-up diner for dogs" taking place in Shoreditch that lauds itself as "the first of its kind in Britain to serve high-end, freshly prepared, organic canine cuisine."
Holistic dog cuisine? Yep. For just £20 per dog-owner pair, the lucky canines in attendance will experience a five-course menu (with "drink" pairings) inspired by Juliette de Baïracli Levy's 1955 tome The Complete Herbal Book for the Dog.
Levy was a pioneer in the school of thought of "natural rearing"—a pet care philosophy that extols the benefits of feeding dogs natural, raw foods and herbs in place of commercial pet food, along with ensuring their daily access to soil, grass, and abundant exercise and fresh air. In terms of doggy diet, Levy's strategy has been a cornerstone of holistic veterinarian care, with a basis in a varied regimen of raw meat, dairy, eggs, vegetables, herbs, and the addition of some grains, such as yogurt-soaked oats. She also advocated for medicinal fasting and the importance of seaweed in canine diets for hair, bone, and skin health. In the book, she says, "I introduced seaweed to the veterinary world when a student in the early 30s … It was scorned then, but now it is very popular worldwide."
With this foundation in mind, Stephenson—along with event organizer and "spiritual dog trainer" Natty Mason—has devised a menu designed with dog health in mind. And it may sound, to some human readers, a little extravagant.
Dishes for the pooches include "textures of tripe with seaweed and kale puree, crispy Paddywack with reishi mushroom flaxseed cream," and even a dessert of "coconut and blueberry chia pudding with gluten-free cinnamon quinoa 'dog biscuits,'" Because getting dogs drunk will likely just kill them, the "drink" menu instead consists of alkaline water, beef consommé, and coconut water. And at the end of the meal, each dog will be served a marrow bone from local butcher Hill & Szrok for its alleged dental benefits and a tonic of "Fresh Breath" herbal tea to aid digestion.
The human crowd will have an arguably less exciting but similarly raw and healthy meal unequivocally laced with "superfoods" such as spirulina and flaxseed, with menu items such as gazpacho, golden quinoa, and a coconut and mango salad. Their end-of-meal treat is similar to that of the dogs: an avocado, blueberry, and chia cheesecake.
Does all of this sound a little decadent? Sure. But all proceeds from the dinner are being donated to Amazon CARES, a Peruvian animal charity that aims to increase the quality of life of and find homes for the massive number of animals living on the streets in the region.
Like their human counterparts, dogs can now use charity functions as an excuse to live large.