Chef Name: Matthew Kenney
Title: Founder of Matthew Kenney Cuisine.
Twice nominated for James Beard Rising Star Chef.
Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef in America.
French Culinary Institute, Outstanding Graduate.
VegNews, Chef of the Year.
University of Maine, Outstanding Graduate.
How old were you when you started cooking professionally?
What’s your earliest and fondest first memory of food?
Blueberry Pie made by my mom on the coast of Maine in August.
Which chefs inspire you most and why?
The chefs in our restaurants inspire me to be better every day. We are all working passionately for a common cause and knowing they are in the kitchen doing everything possible to provide a great guest experience also motivates me to work harder to provide them with the best tools, ingredients and ideas to support them.
What are your two favourite cookbooks and why?
I know it’s hard to imagine, but I don’t read cookbooks! Long ago I used them for inspiration but for more than ten years I haven’t used them, aside from reading them for formatting ideas. I try to keep my mind free of any outside influences, which helps our cuisine form its own personality.
Which two ingredients could you not live without?
Avocados and lemons.
What is your favourite comfort food to cook at home?
Sprouted lentils and vegetables.
If you could eat at any Michelin star restaurant in the world today, where would it be and why?
Pujol in Mexico City (I hope to go there in two weeks). We just opened Bar Verde, a plant-based Mexican restaurant, in NYC and I’m excited about experiencing this wonderful restaurant.
And who would you take as your guest? My girlfriend, Charlotte.
What do you look for in a good chef?
Passion, organisational skills, leadership, an aptitude for outstanding and meticulous presentation and a refined palate.
What advice would you give to chefs starting their career paths now?
Travel and experiment as much as possible before settling down in your own kitchen.
Matthew Kenney is the founder of Matthew Kenney Cuisine.