“Vegetarian, vegan and plant-based food has garnered an unfortunate reputation over the years of not being delicious—but when people see how delicious plant-based cuisine can be and the level of flavors we are able to achieve, they are inspired to eat well and try new things. It’s all about crafting really refined culinary experiences without any butter, cream, sugar or animal products,” says Matthew Kenney, the award-winning, all-stars visionary, author and celebrity chef behind the beloved Plant Food + Wine in Los Angeles and Miami.
“As a chef, I find raw foods the most challenging and rewarding to prepare, and I feel my best when consuming them. Food tastes better when it is alive, full of fresh nutrients and color, rather than charred, over-seasoned and unrecognizable from its origin. Plants offer everything we need for pure health. With my cooking I strive to share this new way of eating—filled with plant-based and predominantly raw foods—with everyone around me.”
On his quest to seduce the palates with delicious, vibrant and healthful food, he had created several plant-based and raw food culinary academies around the world and a week-long wellness program at Kukui’ula in Hawai that involves yoga, meditation, and farming and harvesting.“Growing up in Maine really shaped my understanding and love for nature, it's where I fell in love with food. I was always looking to learn about ingredients I had never seen before. Later in my life, my passion for health evolved through my yoga practice and becoming more connected to the planet. Everything about my life changed when I transitioned to a raw food diet. I felt better, I had more energy, and I found new professional inspiration. People are also realizing the major health benefits of adopting this lifestyle and are sharing their own stories just as I have, in order to shift the culture.”
Chef Matthew Kenney Tips
Grow your own: “Keep a fresh supply of basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage and dill really helps with the presentation of dishes. By growing your very own edible garden to produce organic herbs and garnishes (like our flagship restaurant, Plant Food + Wine in Venice) will certainly enhance the flavor and presentation.
Surprise them with depth of flavor: “I love to use local, sustainable, and seasonal ingredients, but this can be restrictive based on availability. When people see how beautiful food can be they are inspired to eat well and try new things. Once they do try our plant-based cuisine, most people are surprised at the depth of flavor we’re able to achieve.”
Sauce is key: “Creative plant-based sauces are also a major part of what makes simple raw food interesting and unique. Some of my favorites are pesto, hummus, tahini, salsa, guacamole or “sour cream” made with nutritional yeast.”
Plant based restaurants:
Chef Matthew Kenney picks for crafty and mouth-watering plant-based, raw food. L.A. Plant Food + Wine Venice. His flagship restaurant is a paradise for veggie and wine lovers. The seasonally crafted menu and the beautiful outdoor space with a Mediterranean feel are amazing treats. The mushroom and vegetable burger with carrot ketchup and sunflower cheddar is to die for.
Runner up: Au Lac. Kenney also loves this Vietnamese-inspired restaurant, a classic in the raw and vegetarian scene for more than a decade.
New York: Double Zero. Kenney’s plant-based pizza heaven in the East Village serves small plates, organic pizza prepared in a wood burning oven, vegan ice cream and organic wines. The white pizza with macadamia ricotta is a winner.
Florida: Christopher’s Kitchen. Chef Christopher Slawson offers a lovely menu of beautifully crafted dishes with the highest quality of organic ingredients. Vegan ice-cream, pies and chocolates are highly popular.
Baby Kale Salad Recipe (Serves 4)
- 8 oz. baby Tuscan kale
- 2 persimmons, cut into wedges, seeds removed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 oz. Radish sprouts
Toss the persimmons wedges, olive oil, salt in a medium sized bowl. Grill persimmons 3-5 min. Let cool and set aside.
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 lemon, zested
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Make dressing by whisking lemon juice, and slowly incorporate the olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, lemon zest.
- 2 cups toasted pistachios, plus 4-6 pieces for garnish
- 2 cups filtered water
- 2 tablespoons salt
Simmer pistachios and salt in water for 30 minutes, or until soft. Blend all ingredients until smooth. Add additional filtered water if necessary.
Spoon 2 tablespoons pistachio puree on plate. Dress Tuscan kale with lemon dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Place greens on top pistachio puree and add persimmon wedges. Microplane 1 toasted pistachio per dish. Place sprouts on top as garnish. Reserve 6 pieces for garnish.