Matthew Kenney is crafting the future of food
”I have chosen to devote my efforts to changing the way the world thinks about food"
- Matthew Kenney
On our most recent trip to NYC, we decided to try out new vegan restaurants. We made reservations at Matthew Kenney’s restaurant Double Zero, as we were curious since we had read about his intentions: to change the way we eat!
Matthew Kenney is expanding rapidly in several major international markets including education, hospitality, wellness, books and products. The Michelin rated Double Zero pizza restaurant will be available worldwide as a franchise business and in stores. The concept is called Double Zero Now and will include both frozen and freshly made for people to take home, so we knew we had to try it ourselves.
Where did you grow up?
"I grew up on the coast of Maine, where I developed a passion for local, seasonal produce. My family always had a beautiful vegetable garden, sourced local wild fruits and vegetables. They also produce wild honey, maple sap to make their own Maple Syrup. We essentially lived a life influenced by seasonal ingredients."
Have you always been interested in the environment?
"I have always been extremely conscious of the environment and living a green life, although my decision to live an entirely plant-based life only came to life about 15 years ago where my passion for yoga, wellness and animals took the lead. I've never enjoyed food as much as I do now and I've never felt so good. It's also nice to know that I'm not contributing to the destruction of the environment, to the growing healthcare crisis brought on by consumption of unhealthy and processed foods."
What are your thoughts on the connection between food and health?
"Food can change lives: I believe food and health are inextricably linked; chefs have a responsibility to provide wellness through thoughtful, conscious cuisine. Chefs should deliver not only taste but health."
Matthew Kenney's opinion about the Swedish Food Pyramid created 1972 and adapted by the US and since then everybody's guideline for what to eat and how much, is clear: "it’s actually hard to image the current Pyramid having any relevancy at all today. Rather than debate the obvious flaws in the traditional Food Pyramid head on, we simply created our own. Consider this as a guide more than a rule."
What are your thoughts on climate change?
"I have a very strong opinion on every subject from climate change to animal rights, however, I have chosen to devote my efforts to changing the way the world thinks about food, which I believe will address all of these serious issues."
Please tell us tell us about your latest project.
"I have so many! One of my passion projects is Plantminded, which is an institutional food service brand dedicated to serving meals to Hospitals, Schools and Universities. We have partnered with professionals within the institutional sector to create programs which will revolutionize the quality of mainstream meals. Our first program, launching next month, will serve 600 meals per day to over 200 patients at Loma Linda University Medical Center."
Do you think it’s extreme to be a vegan?
"I think it's extreme to consume animal products!"
Where do you get your protein from?
"Plant sources of protein are so abundant, and far more functional for our bodies. Sprouted grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and vegetables supply us with more protein than we can possibly need. We don’t need to eat animals or exploit them."
Isn’t it more complicated to cook vegan food than, let's say, meat and potatoes?
"Not at all. In fact, it’s far easier, once we are properly trained and have general understanding of working with plants."
”Vegan food contains a lot of gluten” - Do you find this to be true?
"Not at all. This is true only in processed foods. I am not proponent of processed foods, including soy."
What makes you happy?
"California weather, fresh produce, movement, love."
It was freezing in NYC during our visit, and after a few our of walking around we arrived at restaurant with very rosy cheeks and had an amazing time. The pizzas were beyond our wildest expectations, but the cheese platter was the biggest surprise (how could cheese this good be vegan?). The wonderful staff and cosy decor just completed an all in all lovely experience. Next up: Matthew Kenney's restaurant Bar Verde.
Enjoy two vegan recipes, courtesy of Matthew Kenney.
2 cups butternut squash
1 cup russet potato
2 cup 00 flour
¼ cup potato starch
2 Tbsps olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Roast butternut squash on lined baking sheet at 375°F for 35 minutes, or until fork tender. Boil russet potatoes in salted water with thyme and rosemary until easily pierced with a knife.
Using a potato ricer process butternut squash and potatoes separately. In a large bowl, mix squash and potato with a wooden spoon. Add salt and oil to bowl and mix. Mix in Flour until just incorporated, do not overmix. As soon as it comes together, add the potato starch. Mix thoroughly, make a tight ball and rest in fridge, covered for 1 hour. After rested, roll ¾ inch thick and portion into 1½ inch pieces with dough scraper or knife.
Reserve the gnocchi on floured parchment paper and freeze until ready to use. Do not thaw before use.To cook, boil well-salted water and add fresh gnocchi. The gnocchi will be ready when they start to float.
Butternut Farro Bolognese
1 cups farro, toasted
2 cups butternut squash
¼ cup white wine
½ cup vegetable stock
3 Sprigs lemon thyme
1 ancho chili
2 cloves garlic
¼ tsp black peppercorns
½ onion, small diced
½ head large fennel, small diced
½ red bell pepper, small diced
1 tsp toasted cumin seed, ground
1 tsp toasted fennel seed, ground
1 tsp toasted fennel seed, whole
1 Tbsps lemon thyme, minced
½ cup olive oil
Roast butternut squash on lined baking sheet at 375°F for 35 minutes, or until fork tender. In a high speed blender, pulse butternut squash until smooth.
Toast the farro in a dry pan until fragrant. Make a sachet with the bunch of lemon thyme, whole fennel seeds, head of garlic, and peppercorns. Boil the farro, anchos and the sachet in seasoned water. If foam comes to the top of the water, skim it off. Once the farro is al-dente, pull the grains out of the water and cool. Sauté the onion and fennel until soft. Mix the al-dente farro. Add white wine and veg stock and reduce 75%. Add Butternut and stir. Cook until flavors develop and sauce thickens.
All images copyright Matthew Kenney Cuisine, follow his work on Instagram.