Raw Guru Matthew Kenney on His Upcoming Wynwood Restaurant and Culinary Academy
Matthew Kenney recently visited five countries in the span of a week. It was an educational trip for the American chef, and Kenney's eager to put his unique spin on the knowledge he's accumulated.
Photo courtesy of Avery Yale Kamila Matthew Kenney is a leading raw food chef
One of his stops was in Denmark, as Copenhagen is home to some of the world's most innovative chefs, including René Redzepi of Noma. Like the Danish trailblazer, Kenney is similarly pioneering. In the world of high-end raw cuisine, he is widely considered the uncontested leader.
Since becoming completely vegan ten years ago, Kenney has committed himself to changing the way people view and consume plant-based foods. He does this through his speaking engagements, cookbooks, restaurants, and the Matthew Kenney Academy. Founded in 2009, the progressive raw food culinary school has locations in Maine and Santa Monica.
See also: Foraging, South Florida Style
In spite of his frenzied travel schedule, the 49-year-old appeared impossibly well rested and at least a decade younger when Short Order met with him last week. Kenney was in town to work on a short-term project: hosting a vegetarian dinner as part of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and a long-term project: opening a living foods restaurant and a third educational center in our very own Wynwood.
The White Lotus and adjacent academy are slated to open in the fall. The 70-seat restaurant is a collaboration between Kenney and Karla Dascal, founder of the Sacred Space, the Space Miami, and Karla Conceptual Event Experiences.
Like Kenney, Dascal is a staunch believer in the plant-based lifestyle, and said she has been ever since switching to a vegan diet helped cure her diabetes. When looking to partner with someone on a food concept at the Space Miami, her immediate instinct was to approach the raw food guru himself.
Bringing his vision to Miami was a no-brainer for Kenney. Plenty of students from Florida attend his academy, and there's been a great demand from South Americans to open a Miami division, he said. What's more, people here are very preoccupied with health and exercise, and as Dascal put it, "they're demanding and craving the purity and vibrancy of plant-based foods."