I have been a big fan of Matthew Kenny for many years. He is a chef, an entrepreneur, an author of over a dozen delicious-looking raw vegan cooking books and above all a true artist.
For many months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to make it to the Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy in Santa Monica. In the perfect world, I’d have signed up for Level 1 ( Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine) , Level 2 ( Advance Raw Cuisine) and Level 3 ( Professional Raw applications). But I would have had to take a leave from work and move temporarily to Santa Monica since this requires 4 weeks or 120 hours for each level. I have the feeling my family would object to that too! Although lately they seem to enjoy eating my class assignments (I am currently working towards my professional plant-based certification at Rouxbe Cooking School, a program lead by Chef Chad Sarno).
I have no doubt I will make it to Matthew Kenney Culinary full-time some day. In the meantime, I am “getting a taste” of his weekend intensive courses including a Knife Skills and (Raw Vegan) Sushi Workshop on June 29th and The Art of Chocolate on July 20th. After all, like Lao Tzu said: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”
I signed up for these classes a couple of months ago and ever since I’ve been patiently waiting for the day to come. When last Sunday arrived, I woke up with the biggest smile on my face, like a kid on Christmas morning. “Why have I waited this long to sign up for class?.
I arrived at the Matthew Kenney Culinary Santa Monica around 10:55 am or five minutes before class started. I must say that this place is a little hard to find at first. It’s located inside The Market at Santa Monica Place and it’s adjacent to Matthew Kenney’s M.A.K.E restaurant.
The Matthew Kenney Culinary has a state-of-the-art kitchen with beautiful granite countertops and glass walls, allowing the curious shoppers at The Market to take a nice peek at the on-going class.
Upon arrival, we were directed to our stations where we were given our high quality whites, black aprons and the program for the day. I was feeling like a professional chef already. I was also happy to learn that we were a small group, allowing for more 1:1 time.
Our instructor, Chef Sean Murray, proceeded with brief introductions and a quick overview of kitchen safety and the basics ( how to hold a knife, the “claw” grip, etc …).
We spent the first couple of hours going over the different cuts and performing fine julienne ( 1/16 inch x 1/16 inch x 2-2 1/2 inches ) on carrots, red peppers and cucumbers. My previously acquired knife skills came in handy. However, I soon realized that I have a long ways to go before becoming a “lean mean cutting machine”. For this class, we practiced cuts with a ceramic Pure Komanchi knife which it’s not as sharp as my chef Global knife back at home. We discarded a lot of produce since we were keeping only the best fine julienne cuts for our sushi.
We learned how to make pickled ginger combining rice vinegar with agave, water, beet juice and salt. We prepared smoked shiitakes with tamari and sesame oil. We learned how to incorporate smokey flavor into the mushroom by using a smoke gun which intensified the mushrooms’ rich umami flavor.
The class split up for lunch for about 30 minutes or so. And what it took 2 hours to prepare, took 5 minutes to devour!
I sat in the M.A.K.E restaurant with my new friend and classmate, Clare L. We enjoyed our colorful dishes and a little bit of chef treatment. As we were still wearing our chef whites, a couple of people stopped by our table to ask us for our restaurant business hours. This made me giggle inside. We could have told them that we didn’t work there but we assumed our “chef on a lunch break” role and directed them to “our” waitress for further info. At the studio where I practice yoga, I often get confused for one of the instructors. I kind of like it!
After lunch, we went back to class and spent the rest of the course learning how to make different rolls, including a jicama “rice” one, and Dragon roll ( with the avocado outside) and a Temaki sushi, also known as Cone Sushi or Hand Roll sushi.
Our cooking instructor, Chef Sean Murray, was excellent. He was able to answer many of our questions but what I truly enjoyed was his focus on technique and presentation. Every single aspect matters when preparing sushi.
Before we knew it, it was already 4 pm and class was over! I was feeling accomplished, happy, a little tired and hungry. I grabbed a really quick bite and headed back to San Diego ( again) with a big smile on my face. I had just completed my Knife Skills and Sushi Workshop at none other than the Matthew Kenney Culinary Santa Monica! Oh, I really want to sign up for level 1,2 and 3!
Many thanks to Matthew Kenney and his staff, Chef Sean Murray, for this amazing weekend intensive course! It’s all I ever wished for! Well, meeting Matthew Kenney will be next!
I am looking forward to my next class in a couple of weeks: The Art of Chocolate. Yes, (raw vegan) C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E! Now we are talking!