June 16, 1997 12:00 PM

AS THE OWNER OF RAW, A SAN Francisco eatery devoted to uncooked cuisine, Juliano (yes, just one name) can emit more hot air than a deflating soufflé. “I’m sorry to be immodest, but I’m a genius,” says the 24-year-old chef. “I invented a whole new cuisine!”

Of course, that depends on one’s definition of edible food. Featuring an all-vegetarian menu that includes sunbaked pizza topped with avocado and cured eggplant ($13), rice fermented for 30 days ($9) and sushi made of tofu, apples and Portobello mushrooms ($7), Raw may not exactly have Wolfgang Puck running scared, but it does have a rabid following among generation Xers—as well as celebs including, says Juliano, Robin Williams and Danny Glover. “The taste is so distinct, so different,” says Jennifer Munro, 33, a regular. “Each time I come, they become more creative.” Adds Julian Levinson, 28: “It’s energizing—it leaves you feeling fresh. You eat here and you don’t feel like taking a nap.”

The son of a Las Vegas chef and his wife, a former casino worker who now helps manage Raw, Juliano realized early on that he didn’t want to eat anything from animals. “I knew it was wrong to bite into veins,” he says. Making his first raw dish—a fake salmon formed from carrot pulp—as a teenager, he continued developing raw-food recipes after moving in 1995 to San Francisco. But his taste for the natural doesn’t apply just to food. Living alone in a small, sparsely furnished warehouse space, he proudly refuses to use toothpaste or shampoo. “Animals never take medication, never go to the doctor or dentist and they’re fine,” he says. “A bar of soap is all you need.”

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