Contrary to the Simpson’s chant, ‘you don’t make friends with salad,’ US chef and restaurateur, Matthew Kenney is renowned for his global pioneering of plant-based cuisine which evidently proves, you can make friends with salad – even right here in Canberra. 

Monster’s head chef Daniel Flatt and creative culinary partner, Ian Curley will welcome Matthew to showcase an eight-course plant based menu for a special dinner at Monster Bar + Kitchen, on Friday 5 October.

The menu will feature mushroom dumplings with Szechuan vinaigrette, kelp noodle Cacio E Pepe, Pumpkin-cardamom mousse, coconut-pandan sorbet, lime gel and more.

We chat to Matthew…

Tell us a bit about your foodie journey? 

My relationship with food began in childhood, growing up on the coast of maine.  I learned about seasonality and the importance of local, high quality products.  although I never planned to be a chef at first, I always loved restaurants.  While exploring an understanding of the hospitality business by attending culinary school, I fell in love with cooking. I have also always been a passionate fan of wellness, yoga, mindfulness and meditation. It was when i brought all of this together, that I realized my mission as a chef was to bring together culinary art and health.

When/ why did you decide to focus on plant based cooking? 

More than 16 years ago, at a time I was almost completely plant-based myself, and when a friend took me to a raw vegan restaurant in NYC – by the time I left, I knew my career and personal life had changed forever

How have peoples perceptions changed towards plant based diets from when you first converted to the green side?

The segment has completely changed.  First of all, plant-based wasn’t even a phrase 15 years ago and people weren’t ready.  Now they are and plant based has become the cool kid on the block.

What does a day of plant based eating look like for you – without bells and whistles?

My personal food choices are so simple…green juice, whole fruits, some good bread, great salads at lunch with healthy fats and usually Japanese food for dinner….lots of ferments, seaweed, great snacks of nuts, seeds, more vegetables.

What is the most interesting thing happening with vegan food right now?

There is a complete paradigm shift taking place, where plants will become the centre of the plate. It’s hard to imagine although it will all be clear in less than 5 years.

Dinner Friday 5 October, tickets $120pp via this link.