Matthew Kenney is no stranger to shopping the farmers’ market. The Maine-born chef skyrocketed to culinary fame when he won Food + Wine’s America’s Best New Chef Award in 1994 with his meat- and fish-based restaurant. But along the way, Kenney switched gears. He ditched the meat, eggs, dairy, and stopped cooking altogether.
But that didn’t mean he stepped away from the kitchen. Kenney channeled his energy into raw cooking, using only plant-based foods to make filling, gourmet meals. The author of 11 cookbooks, owner of three raw food restaurants, and the founder of world’s first classically structured raw food culinary academy (Matthew Kenney Academy), we figured he and his executive chef Scott Winegard would be the best to chat with when it comes to all things produce.
Here are Kenney and Winegard’s best tips for navigating the farmers’ market, what to buy and cook this fall, and a simple yet delicious side dish recipe.
The most important ingredient home chefs need to keep in their kitchen is a fresh supply of basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage and dill. Growing your very own edible garden to produce organic herbs and garnishes (like Plant Food + Wine in Venice) truly enhances the flavor and presentation of your dishes. – Matthew Kenney
We make at least two trips to the Santa Monica Market, it is a giant inspiration that guides our menus. The menu development usually starts when we get to the market! We speak with the farmers and find out what’s coming into season and how long it will stay. The Jasmine rice cake [on the menu at Kenney’s Plant Food + Wine in Venice] came to be at the first sight of corn this summer. Then we accent the dish with different fresh herbs that we are either growing in our garden at the restaurant or at one of our favorite farms. – Scott Winegard
[Fall and winter are] usually a very exciting time for us as tomatoes and zucchini are on their way out and we start seeing the winter squashes, celery root, sunchokes, and hearty greens that become sweet from the frost. Also look for fruit like pomegranates and persimmons, and great citrus like Meyer lemons. – Scott Winegard
Quick and easy sauces are a major part of making plant-based meals interesting and unique like pesto, hummus, tahini, salsa, guacamole or “sour cream” made with nutritional yeast. – Matthew Kenney
I am looking forward Spaghetti Squash! I like to cut a Spaghetti Squash in half, remove the seeds, douse it in Olive Oil, sprinkle a generous amount or sea salt and red chili flakes, place it face down with a few sprigs of thyme, rosemary and sage underneath and bake it at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes until its soft and the inside of the squash comes out easily in strands. I then mix in about a teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves, some fresh cracked black pepper and a squeeze of some lemon. This is one of my favorite sides its super delicious! – Scott Winegard