With vegan cuisine continuing to rise in popularity and profits of more than $4.5B in 2019—even the Golden Globes served a complete plant-based menu at the annual star-studded fete—consumers are keenly aware of the importance of health and wellness and protecting our planet.
An early adopter and tireless promoter of this lifestyle is James Beard–nominated, French Culinary Institute–trained, Plant Food + Wine founder/chef Matthew Kenney, who has been dubbed the “healthiest chef on the planet.” With restaurants in nine cities, including New York and Los Angeles, his main goal is bringing the future of food to the forefront of education. Kenney has created a range of vegan products, has authored over a dozen books on the subject, and is set to open 10 additional restaurants in the coming year.
He also created the Folia menu at Four Seasons Los Angeles, a concept set to expand to an additional 40 Four Seasons spanning all the way to Dubai. Another of his latest collaborations includes the French-born Ladurée Tea Salon, which is now dedicated to 100 percent vegan dishes in Beverly Hills and rebranded as LadureexMK, with select menu items available in locations throughout the world.
I order breakfast from our own Venice Beach retail concept, New Deli, most days, as I love the bagel with carrot lox and cashew cream cheese, and we have a wonderful and extensive coffee program. Sometimes I’ll mix it up with my favorite green juice from Make Out in Culver City, with avocado toast and radishes. The avocado toast there is definitely my favorite in L.A.
Lunch is usually a working experience. I really like Lodge Bread Company in Culver City, if not dining at Plant Food + Wine in Venice (in the garden, of course). They use very fresh ingredients, change their menu often, and their bread is incredible.
For dinner, a Venice neighborhood favorite is MTN, which offers a very innovative Japanese menu with many plant-based options. It is boldly flavored and light at the same time.
Tried and True Menu Staple
Each of our concepts has its signature dishes. The classic heirloom tomato lasagna is an 18-year-old classic at several locations throughout the US and internationally.
Favorites for Out-of-Town Guests
I nearly always begin in the garden at Plant Food + Wine. If it’s not full we’ll go for a pizza at the new Double Zero Venice, which was the second location for this concept after NYC. We have since opened one at our popular plant-based food hall, Plant City, in Providence, Rhode Island, and have plans to expand to several other cities this year.
We love experimenting with new restaurants, so we’re constantly exploring places we’ve never tried, both in L.A. and when traveling. It’s always fun to check out a different farmers market outside of my usual Santa Monica or Venice rotation. I love finding new products and local companies that are doing things in the plant-based space, and many of the items we sell at New Deli (our plant-based market and deli in Venice) are from local artisans.
I’ll occasionally go to Jean-Georges at the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills for the gazpacho alone. It’s one of my favorite foods, and they do it well. The rooftop is a nice addition as well, with a perfect view of the hills. Wally’s [Beverly Hills and Santa Monica] has best wine selection, always a great vibe and atmosphere.
Bagels for Breakfast
Since I’ll miss my bagel from New Deli, I usually order a similar item from Orchard Grocer and pick up a green juice from Dr. Smood.
Clean Dining for Lunch and Dinner
I love ABCV for lunch—the carrots with almond-seed butter are to die for—and Cosme for dinner. Both have vibrant, clean, plant-based options and great wine and cocktail lists.
Late-Night Spots after Work
In summer, I like the rooftop at Public Hotel, and I always like the lounge at Mercer Hotel late at night. It is quiet and a great place for a meeting and conversation.
Weekend Brunch Gem
I enjoy brunch at Nix, John Fraser’s Michelin-starred restaurant in the West Village. Their innovation and technique is inspiring and, if I’m in the mood, the cocktails are exquisite.