Identità Golose 2016 - programma ENG
Identità Golose 2016 - iscrizioni ENG

Face to face with Matthew Kenney

Cristina Bowerman’s interview with the father of raw cuisine. A much awaited lesson in Milan

05-02-2016

Matthew Kenney, from Connecticut, 51. Chef, author and trainer, he’s the father of raw and vegan cuisine. He wrote 12 books, founded 5 culinary academies. "Making health and great food coexist is something everyone can do", he explained to Cristina Bowerman, for once in the role of interviewer. Kenney will hold a lesson in the Auditorium hall at Identità Milano on Monday 7th March, at 4.30 pm

I am lucky. For many, many reasons and one of them is that I often get the opportunity to meet great chefs. And great chefs always have amazing, engaging personalities. Great chefs always bring something "different”: you just have to dig a little. Just the other day, I was sitting at a table with Ciccio Sultano, Corrado Assenza and Accursio Craparo and each of them had something special to share, like a memory, a flavour, a dish. And every time, I steal a little of their passion and make it mine.

bout a year ago, while on a business trip to Los Angeles, I had a chance to meet Matthew Kenney. I was really flattered he took the time out of his crazy schedule to come by where I was working to just meet me and welcome me to Los Angeles. After that I went and visited his restaurants several times, read his book, had dinner at his main restaurant, Plant Food+Wine which is just a few blocks away from my apartment in Venice.

Matthew is a phenomenal chef who has a great vision and is able to make you part of it the minute you walk into his restaurant or once you listen to him speaking. You can tell that he is not the kind of person who follows a trend but rather he is the trendsetter!  When asked to present him through an article, I thought «What a better chance to ask him the questions I wanted to ask».  And although I knew that Matthew had been in Italy before, I needed a “warm up question”  an opener so to speak, so I asked an easy one. 

A dish from Make Out, raw food café, one of Matthew Kenney’s restaurants: it’s in Culver City, California. Kenney opened various restaurants in California, Miami, New York, Belfast (Maine), Hua Hin in Thailand and Merida in Mexico

A dish from Make Out, raw food café, one of Matthew Kenney’s restaurants: it’s in Culver City, California. Kenney opened various restaurants in California, Miami, New York, Belfast (Maine), Hua Hin in Thailand and Merida in Mexico

Ciao Matthew, first time in Italy? 
I have been to Italy a few times, usually for a couple of days at a time to do business. 

Future of American cuisine: do you feel it will soar or fall under the "fast food" concept? 
A I believe the future of American cuisine is bright and that even fast food companies are starting to embrace healthier options and better ingredients. I see this every day, even though it will take some time.

Raw cuisine: was it you who chose it or raw chose you? 
Raw Cuisine found me, although I was ready and looking for it during my quest to bring culinary art and nutrition together. 

Do you and your family eat raw or else? 
I eat both cooked and raw food. Raw is my passion but I do have other foods.

How long do you think it would take for a person to switch from an omnivore diet to a raw one? 
Most people slowly transition to raw, although I did it overnight. Ideally, people will try it to better understand how it makes them feel good and then they will make their choices based on that. 

A small selection of the books Kenney has published over the years

A small selection of the books Kenney has published over the years

How did you come up with the idea of a school within your restaurant in Venice?
The school was a natural progression for me. I realized that our cuisine is so specialized that it would only truly work if people were educated and trained to properly prepare it, so we have continued to grow education along with the restaurants. We now have 5 culinary academies. 

What do you wish you can convey to the Italian audience in Milan?
In Milan, I'd like to convey that, although my work is strictly plant-based, the goal is to show the world that health and great food can co-exist, simply by chefs making conscious choices and working to present cleaner, whole ingredients. I believe the chefs of the world are working to go in this direction and we are currently seeing a slow, but steady global transformation. 

I totally share his view, his goal and one thing I can guarantee is that while dining at Kenney’s restaurant you won’t miss for a second a traditional meal but you will discover new flavors and new ways of eating.


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Cristina Bowerman

Glass Hostaria's chef (one Michelin star)