As a raw food chef, plant-based visionary, author, and entrepreneur, Matthew Kenney’s application of contemporary methods and techniques to design innovative recipes with exciting food aesthetics has pushed plant-based cuisine into the mainstream. It has long been said that we ‘eat with our eyes,’ and while Kenney espouses a philosophy of food as fuel, he has the uncanny ability to create world-class plating.
For those not familiar with this prolific American celebrity chef (and missed the mention in Netflix’s Bad Vegan: Fame, Fraud, and Fugitives), Kenney is first and foremost an entrepreneur, author, and educator specializing in plant-based cuisine. He is the author of twelve cookbooks, founder of more than 52 vegan restaurants worldwide in countries including Bahrain, Maldives, Lima, and Buenos Aires, and empire builder with Matthew Kenney Cuisine and Matthew Kenney Culinary.
In the little hamlet of Searsport, Maine, Matthew grew up foraging with his family, and it was during his first job as a dishwasher that he fell in love with restaurant life. The people, the food, and the social aspect of the industry won him over, and he enrolled in the French Culinary Institute of New York. After graduation, everything about his life changed. He transitioned to a raw food diet and realized a renewed vigour for life. His entrepreneurial vision was born, and soon, he began opening plant-based and raw restaurants to share his passion with as many people as possible.
He has earned several awards, including being named one of America’s Best New Chefs by Food and Wine Magazine and was twice nominated as a Rising Star Chef in America by the James Beard Foundation. Kenney has appeared on numerous food and talk shows and lectures on nutrition and health, including a highly watched TEDx talk in 2011.
“Food is not meant to satisfy our cravings, addictions, and indulgences. It is meant to fuel us, to sustain us, to give us positive energy and create one big sustainable ecosystem.”
Launching Plant Food + Wine
In 2015, Kenney launched Plant Food + Wine near Venice Beach. With a purpose to offer a beautiful selection of locally sourced fare on a seasonally crafted menu, with the experience enriched by an extensive wine list of organic and biodynamic varietals. The resulting intimate space has successfully become a communal gathering place where guests experience delicious, health-conscious food in an effortless atmosphere.
The previous tenant in the space, AXE was a mainstay in the community for over twelve years. It was committed to providing a culturally diverse menu—its name is a salutation borrowed from the Yoruba language—sourcing directly from local farmers, organic vendors, and boutique producers. For Kenney to step into that space, the culinary and social stakes were already high, but he was undaunted. With the launch of his vision, he solidified his place in the international vegan community.
This serene and contemplative space emits soothing Bohemian vibes and is the satisfying backdrop for Plant Food + Wine’s bright and flavourful cuisine. With prime access to the Santa Monica farmer’s market, guests benefit from the quality of ingredients, the atmosphere, and impeccable service. Every menu change offers vegetables, seeds, grains, legumes and house-made cheeses, enhanced by the restaurant’s onsite edible garden.
The indoor-outdoor space reflects a Mediterranean coast aesthetic with French oak floors, modern lines, reclaimed stone, and an inviting fireplace. The transition from inside to out is through an olive tree canopy that shelters diners with courtyard garden seating.
For those seeking a beautiful coastal setting for private events, there are four separate areas, including two indoor rooms, a private dining room with a garden view (the wine room), and a tranquil garden patio setting. Hosting everything from intimate weddings to Hollywood wrap parties, company soirees to bridal showers, the location accommodates all. While maintaining its intimate atmosphere, the space has the capacity for a cocktail party of 175 people or 120 seated throughout the restaurant.
A Table for Four Please
Our dinner was enjoyed in the garden under the boughs of fig and olives trees, right next to the intimate wine room. Our server joked that the space should be on Air BnB to satisfy the number of people who express a desire to never leave Plant Food + Wine after their meals!
If one were to pinpoint a signature dish, it would be the Heirloom Tomato and Zucchini lasagna, which, during our visit, was delivered to almost every table in the restaurant! It satisfies with its excellent macadamia nut “ricotta” and sundried tomato sauce, depth of flavour, and brilliant plating, which undoubtedly brings on an OMG moment followed by social media sharing.
In Los Angeles for the Vegan Women Summit, we dined with attendee Laura Simonson (Founder, VIRCHEW), and VWS speakers Marissa Bronfman (Entrepreneur & Impact Investment Advisor) and Margaret Coons (CEO, Nuts for Cheese). Together, we chose a wide range of dishes to share, along with a selection of organic wine and zero-proof cocktails.
We enjoyed: Flora Artisanal Cheese Plate, Kimchi Dumplings with Sesame, Ginger, Coriander, Maitake Alfredo with Peas and Tendrils, Cashew Baked Raclette with Grilled Sourdough, Heirloom Tomato and Zucchini lasagna, Banana with Coconut Cream & Macadamia Chocolate Caramel Crunch
Enjoy a brilliant meal at Plant Food + Wine on your next visit to Los Angeles. The menu is ever-evolving, the wine and cocktail menu inspiring, and the staff delightful.
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Communications, publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, and multiple digital lifestyle blogs. She is a content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist in the luxury lifestyle niche. She is a regular content contributor to Retail-Insider and has a vast freelance portfolio including Boulevard English & Chinese editions, Indulge, and Montecristo Magazine. When not attending high-profile events in Vancouver's 'Luxury Zone’ or on assignment abroad, she is honing her plant-based cooking skills and caring for her rescues. [email protected]
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