Chef Matthew Kenney is Making People Excited to Eat Vegan Food (Really)

He’s changing the way we think about plant-based cooking.

matthew kenney chef portrait Photo: Courtesy Harrison Boyce

Chef Matthew Kenney is at the forefront of the new enthusiasm for vegan cuisine. With nine restaurants and the launch of his wellness retreat from October 13 to 15 at Turnberry Isle in Miami, he is changing how we think about plant-based dining.

Why is vegan cuisine gaining ground?

In general, the health-and-wellness lifestyle is gaining popularity. More people are, fortunately, caring more about how they treat their bodies and the quality of what they consume. I see more people appreciating the beauty of plant-based foods. I truly believe this is the future of food.

Why are some of us slow to adopt a plant-based diet?

The biggest challenge is the lack of mainstream accessibility. There can be a misconception around raw and plant-based foods that they are not as flavorful or filling as other foods, and my goal is to change people’s minds with our trendy, approachable restaurants.

Where are your newest restaurants?

We just opened two in July: Oliver’s in Montecito, Calif., and our first European restaurant, Essence, in London.

What’s your favorite plant to cook with?

Avocado. Growing up in Maine, I hadn’t tried a quality avocado until I was an adult. I love how versatile they are, and I enjoy them both in savory and sweet dishes or on their own. I also love to bake sweet potatoes and serve them with freshly steamed greens or to prepare a vegetable risotto.

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