Planting for the Future: Matthew Kenney

7 years ago by

Matthew Kenney is a true innovator. A classically trained chef in French cuisine, he soon discovered his true, plant based passion. He has spent his life infusing his creativity and passion into everything he does, from an extensive portfolio of restaurants across the world, to a culinary academy, a number of books, a wellness retreat and also, a restaurant in Venice, where you can find me, pretty often. He is a superstar in his domain and people from around the world come to study with him and taste his delicious cuisine.

He’s also successfully weathered the ups and downs of owning his own businesses, and let yoga and a plant-based lifestyle take him to where he is today. He recently launched PlantLab, his integrated lifestyle brand, that allows people from all walks of life to share in and enjoy his innovative methods and spread it across the world.

Matthew is such an inspiration to me. I hope you enjoy meeting him as much as I did..

[podcast_episode episode=”253651″ ]

pardon my french matthew kenney garance dore atelier dore photo

pardon my french matthew kenney garance dore atelier dore photo

On the power of positive thinking…
I am very positive thinker. I’ve gone through so many challenges with business and becoming a chef. I’m able to focus on the positive and the reason why I’m doing it. If I stay focused on that, it doesn’t matter if you have setbacks, it’s just a temporary thing.

On being able to think ahead…
I definitely think several steps ahead. Of course the path is always changing, but I was absolutely always thinking more about the career like what do I want to do with what I’m learning and how’s that going to change over time.

On how he came to head up his own kitchen…
I didn’t take the typical path. I’d been working at a Sicilian restaurant and the manager who hired me saw how I was progressing, I was going to school full time and cooking full time, and he left that restaurant to take a job at a restaurant that was kind of failing and he said he’d do that if he could bring his own chef and he invited me to be the executive chef. I’d never managed a kitchen, purchased food or done food costs or even written my own menu, but I had so much fire and passion for it that I knew I could do it and I did it.

On the physical and emotional impact of treating your body well…
I joined a gym when I was in high school, and I started working out and noticed how good I felt. Then I started running and got high from that and I’ve kept this up my whole life. I realized I could impact not just my physical well-being, but my emotional well-being by paying attention to what I put in my body and what I do with my body.

pardon my french matthew kenney garance dore atelier dore photo

pardon my french matthew kenney garance dore atelier dore photo

pardon my french matthew kenney garance dore atelier dore photo

On finding yoga following the challenges of running a business after 9/11…
I eventually sold everything and was left without anything except a clean place to start. It was obviously very sad to go from running this big, strong company to not having anything, but that’s when I got really into yoga. I did a lot of yoga and was able to find a happiness in a simple moment of breathing. I didn’t need all those things at that time and it opened me up to discovering a plant-based lifestyle.

On Matthew Kenney Culinary…
It’s incredibly rewarding. It’s the single most gratifying thing that happens for me. We had 30 or so students graduate last month from probably 20 countries. They are so enthusiastic and creative and doing amazing work. To see that they travel across the world to learn our style and then they’re going to take that out and share it with others; it’s the most gratifying part of my job.

On how his feelings on raw food have shifted…
What raw food was to me before is completely different now. I don’t really care anymore if a dish is cooked above 110 degrees, I care more about the character of the dish. You can have a dish where 9 out of 10 ingredients are raw but there might be a roasted mushroom in there and that’s ok!

On veganism…
For me, there are three primary reasons to be plant-based or vegan. As a chef, I love good food, I love wine, so for me, this food tastes a million times better than anything else. If it’s well prepared, it’s so vibrant, so colorful. I can’t compare it to anything else. That’s for people’s own pleasure seeking satisfaction. But beyond that, it’s much more aligned with the needs of our body. It’s going to produce a healthier body and better life experience and everything that goes along with health. Health is really everything. Last and not least at all, because we are one planet, it’s just sustainable. It’s better for the animals, the environment and creates a more sustainable and happier world without pain and suffering. It’s hard to argue against those three pillars in my mind.

pardon my french matthew kenney garance dore atelier dore photo

Planting for the Future: Matthew Kenney

A list of other things we discussed…
International Culinary Center (formerly the French Culinary Institute)
Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Jivamukti Yoga
Elton John

Special thanks to Plant Food + Wine in Venice, CA. for hosting us. Matthew’s latest book is slated for Fall 2017, and be sure to check out PlantLab to stay tuned on everything Matthew is up to.
You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!


Add yours
  • Matthew Kenney : encore un bel exemple à suivre…tes rencontres sont si riches Garance. Merci de nous les partager, ça remet les idées en place en plus de m’inspirer.
    Belle journée.

  • What he says about enjoying good food–not just good as in good for you, but also good in taste–is so important. Too many people think that going vegetarian means giving up flavor. It’s wonderful that he’s teaching people and spreading these ideas around the world.

  • We also grow our own veg in the country and although it’s much work it’s so rewarding.

    Most of all I am happy that while living in the city I have a place in the country where to grow veg.

    We never bought any vegetables from the store when I was a kid. Most of the people grew their own. The Soviet times! :)

    I could never imagine having a plot of land and never growing any edible plants… :) It would be like having a huge wardrobe and not using the clothes in it. Well, kinda…

  • Sylvie June, 1 2017, 7:45 / Reply

    Keep on your path and do what you feel but just my 2 cents that your site seems to be becoming more like “goop” and I loved it precisely because it wasn’t all that.

  • Plant food is incredibly healthy! Vegans and vegetarians, just remember to take your B12 supplement always. A 30 year-old dear vegan friend ended up in a nursing home with a stroke due to depletion of her B12. B12 is not optional and a good percentage of vegetarians and vegans are low in B12.

  • Here’s the reference for vegans/vegetarians being low in B12
    In the July 2003 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, German researchers tracked 174 apparently healthy people living in Germany and the Netherlands.

    They found that 92% of the vegans they studied — those who ate the strictest vegetarian diet, which shuns all animal products, including milk and eggs — had vitamin B12 deficiency. But two in three people who followed a vegetarian diet that included milk and eggs as their only animal foods also were deficient. Only 5% of those who consumed meats had vitamin B12 deficiency.

  • Mercedes June, 2 2017, 1:03 / Reply

    I didn’t have the time to listen yet, so I just indulging on the pictures. How incredible chic Garance looks in that jumpsuit!!! the fit is insane!!! I was talking just yesterday with my friend about the fact that I love the “idea” of a jumpsuit but then when I try them on I look like a bag of potatoes. I am quite petite and I find hard to get the perfect fit for me. I would love a post on jumpsuits and how to style them.


  • Carie June, 5 2017, 4:19

    Thanks, Mercedes! I’ll be sure to share that idea with our fashion team…x Carie

  • toujours intéressant et stimulant vos articles Garance , et j’adore Ron style ???

  • I am also planning on growing such a garden! It opens up so many perspectives, in growing good food. Thank you for sharing your inspirational story!

  • Dear Garance,

    I get it, you are growing older. We all are. I will be 41 this summer.
    But the way you have decided to deal with this fact is making me sad. All these recent stories about holistic approach to esthetic surgery (wtf?), plant-based passions, no coffee, no croissants, photos of green juices/smoothies…
    What would be the point of this long, wrinkle free, carefully curated life?

  • Brigitte June, 6 2017, 7:06

    couldn’t agree more.

  • Eye2Orangic, if you walk into a room with a plant (organic form & colour green) your eye will drawn to that instantly. Human nature, our senses automatically relate to anything organic not artificial. Fascinating…love to participate…

  • Madeline June, 3 2017, 8:32 / Reply

    Loved this, thank you. Surprised by the somewhat negative reviews by some of the previous commenters. Plant-based is far from elitist. It’s the most inclusive way to eat — it’s compassionate for our planet, for our neighbors and for our selves. And the most amazing part is that it can taste amazing! Keep it up Garance and team!

  • Gabrielle June, 4 2017, 6:46 / Reply

    Merci, encore une fois pour ce bel épisode, inspirant et super intéressant !!!

  • Delphine J. June, 6 2017, 9:22 / Reply

    C’est tout à vrai concernant les animaux … il faut laisser tomber les doudounes avec des poils G. ! ;)

  • Carmen June, 6 2017, 3:13 / Reply

    Many thanks Garance, this is very interesting and you look wonderful!

  • Annika Nagel June, 12 2017, 4:24 / Reply

    Could you do a podcast with Andy from Headspace? He lives in Venice too! :)

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