With over 40 restaurants and shops under his brand name, star chef Matthew Kenney, who has become a serial entrepreneur, is becoming a household name. He first cut his teeth in the gourmet kitchens of New York City and eventually went into business for himself to develop a new style of vegan cuisine that combined traditional and advanced culinary techniques with plant-based ingredients. The result was unimaginable at the time – vegan food worthy of a white tablecloth.
Kenney’s early restaurant concepts featured poor lighting, clean lines, and flawless coating precision. The menus featured a balanced selection of raw and cooked dishes, many of which used sous vide, smoking, fermentation, and other high-end techniques that set his style apart from other vegan restaurants. In recent years, Kenney has ventured into more laid-back categories of cuisine – from a grocery hall in Rhode Island to an upcoming transit in Orange County, CA. Once reserved for special occasions, the Matthew Kenney brand is slowly becoming more accessible to every type of eater.
Even during the pandemic, when restaurants were closing at an alarming rate, Kenney opened five new restaurants and avoided permanently closing his existing businesses. We’re impressed with what the brand has achieved, grateful for the good they’ve done for the vegan movement, and addicted to their Instagram feed of delicious meals, delicious desserts, and the adorable Maine Coon cat Rumple (@ rumple.thecat). While we were always quick to share his latest creations, we decided a comprehensive guide to Matthew Kenney Cuisine (MKC) was in order. Whether you’re looking for a new date night spot, a fast casual go-to, or a vegan candy store, you’ll find everything you need to know about the MKC empire here, broken down by category.
In full transparency, we didn’t think Kenney was fast-casual style. Even his Double Zero pizza concept exuded a touch of sophistication and an impressive wine list. However, Kenney’s now several fast-casual concepts have proven us wrong. to be successful (Culver City, CA and Providence, RI) is on the high end of the spectrum – it’s cashier service, but the menu is classic Kenney. Think raw starters, adaptogenic smoothies and lattes, and tiny, raw desserts. A couple of years in the fast lane, and there are burgers and fries Humbl in Windermere, FL; a supermarket on the beach (New deli) in Venice, CA; a multi-business food hall and drive-thru (Plant City, Plant X.) in Providence, RI; and another passage (VEG’D) in Costa Mesa, CA. Kenney has proven that he doesn’t take pride in asking, “Do you want fries with it?”
Plant-based Maison Ladurée
Dining at a Matthew Kenney restaurant and not ordering dessert is defamatory – the complex flavors and textures are always light but decadent, addicting, yet satisfying. However, if all you want is something sweet there is Plant-based Maison Ladurée and Casse Cou. Famed French pastry shop Ladurée has partnered with Kenney to fully veganize their Beverly Hills location. In addition to sweet and savory dishes at tea time, the adorable pastel shop sells intricate mille feuille, delicate croissants, beautiful macarons and other Instagram-worthy delicacies. Casse Cou is one of the newest companies from Kenney – a luxury vegan online chocolatier. From bars to truffle boxes, these sweets are definitely a treat for special occasions.
When you want to impress someone, take them to one of Matthew Kenney’s full service restaurants. Are you ordering too much food and maybe spending a little more than you expected? Certainly. Each menu offers an impossible choice between cacio e pepe and raw lasagna, cheese platter or queso fundido. He has several iterations of his gourmet hits, such as the pasta-centered one Sestina (Los Angeles, New York City and Philadelphia, PA) and its collaboration with the Four Seasons Hotel, Folia (Kuwait, Bahrain, Dubai, Los Angeles). His single-location stunners include the Latin American one Bestina (Providence, RI), vegetable playground Althea (Chicago, IL), Miracles on the Roof Sutra (New York City) and flagship restaurant Plant Food and Wine (Venice, CA). In these facilities, Kenney and his strong team of talented chefs experiment and create vegan dishes that are also art.
We have no doubt that Kenney could conquer the world, but to get there faster, he envisioned a plant-based training program to empower future vegan chefs. The aptly named Food Future Institute offers extensive online training courses that combine classic techniques with innovative approaches. It’s not yet accredited, but it’s an invaluable resource for those seeking personal culinary enrichment, a fun project, or chefs looking to hone their plant-based cooking and innovation skills.
Kenney’s “cool” restaurants are located between the drive-thru and luxury bars. They’re a little too high quality to eat on a daily basis, but they won’t break your budget if you visit occasionally either. These are for Date Night, Friday Night, or anytime you feel like putting on those skinny jeans and doing something with your hair. The wine and cocktail program is always excellent and the food is approachable but breathtaking. Kenney’s wood-fired pizza concept, Double zero (multiple locations, two coastal areas), makes Neapolitan style pizzas and a chopped salad good enough to rival the infamous Nancy Silverton. Hungry Angelina (Long Beach, CA and Brooklyn, NY) works with a mashup of well-known MK torch staples – think orange chicken, beet poke bowls, and artichoke dip with perfectly grilled flatbread.
Kenney has a few other locations around the world as well as several concepts opening in the US in the summer of 2021. You can find the latest information on openings in your area under his brand @ Matthewkenneycuisine on Instagram or visit the Matthew Kenney Cuisine restaurant section website. Kenney’s frozen, ready-to-eat vegan cuisine can be found at Plant made Shop page.
Tanya Flink is a digital editor at VegNews as well as a writer and fitness enthusiast who lives in Orange County, CA.