Inspiring Interviews- Matthew Kenney

21 Jul 2016

If you follow me on snapchat (@nikkirsharp) then you know I am dining at Plant Food and Wine in Venice often. It’s the restaurant of my good friend, Matthew Kenney, who has multiple restaurants all over America including Plant Food and Wine in Venice, Miami, newly opened Arata in Maine, and 00+Co in New York. I also had the incredible opportunity of going to Thailand to check out his culinary school. He’s transformed the way we look at plant based food and so I was excited when he agreed to answer some questions about his brand, raw food, and how he stays so fit and healthy. I’m really excited to share this interview with you all…

NIKKI: Walk me through how and why you ended up opening Matthew Kenney Culinary.

MATTHEW: Matthew Kenney Culinary was born from our emphasis on education and innovation. When I began opening plant-based restaurants we needed to teach the skills to craft this cuisine, so I started holding classes. The growth of the academy has been incredible, we now operate academies online, in Venice CA, Belfast, ME, Miami, FL and Hua Hin Thailand. We’ve graduated over 3,000 alumni representing more than 50 countries. Our tremendously talented group of instructors, students and alumni  and their accomplishments make me truly proud.raw-food-lasagna

NS: Raw tends to have a certain stigma associated with it – mostly that it’s too difficult or too expensive. What advice would you give someone who may be intimidated by raw eating?

MK: I suggest beginning with one plant-based meal a day. For many, this can be an easy way to transition to a new way of eating, and you will experience an immediate impact in how you feel

NS: So as you know, even the healthiest people in the world have days when you just need to satisfy a salty or sweet craving. What is your favorite indulgent food?
MK: I have a bit of a sweet tooth – I love raw chocolate and take some with me whenever I’m traveling. I also believe a little stone fruit sorbet is the perfect finish to a meal (and palette cleanser)!

NS: Who or what has inspired you along the way?
MK:I’ve always been inspired by Roxanne Klein, who opened one of the first great raw food restaurants, Roxanne’s in Northern California several years ago. I’m also inspired by Chef Scott Winegard who runs our culinary operations, and writes the menus for all our projects, and by our students. Our students join Matthew Kenney Culinary from around the world and bring their personal and cultural culinary repertoires, its incredible to learn so much from those that come to study with us.

NS: Do you have any exciting projects going on right now you’d like to share?

MK: Right now we’re working to bring Arata, our plant-based noodle bar, to Venice for a 11 day pop up at Plant Food + Wine. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase our most innovative work and have fun with a new concept at our flagship restaurant. The pop up will be live July 28-August 7th and we are so excited to be hosting Arata in our west coast home!

We’re also introducing Level IV, our most advanced Matthew Kenney Culinary curriculum, in New York City this October. This course is drawing our most talented students to work on an unprecedented level and reach new heights of plant-based cuisine, in one of the world’s most important food cities.

NS: What has been the greatest achievement to date?

MK: The work we do in education makes me most proud. Everyday we’re teaching our students but also learning from them. Bringing students together from all corners of the globe, and seeing the impact they make on the plant-based world as alumni, is the most rewarding part of my job.

NS: What do you do to stay active and healthy (physically and mentally) on a daily basis?

MK: I go to yoga several times a week and ride my bike around Venice. I’m taking tennis lessons now, but really my routine is focused on eating well, and I start each day with a green juice.


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