Not many people could stand up to celeb plant-based chef Matthew Kenney in a vegan cook-off, but we have a feeling Scott Winegard would give him a run for his radishes.
Luckily, there’s zero competition between the two. As director of culinary operations for Kenney’s growing plant-based empire—which includes restaurants like the brand-spanking new Plant Food and Wine on Abbot Kinney in Venice, California—Winegard is “basically the chef for the entire company,” as he puts it.
So what’s Winegard most excited about as summer turns to fall? Here are his top seven ingredients for September, and how he’ll be preparing them. And maybe you, too? —Erin Magner
1. Foraged mushrooms. Lobster mushrooms, porcinis, chanterelles: Take your pick for a potassium- and flavor-packed treat. Winegard suggests dry-roasting them, then adding olive oil, thyme, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to let the mushrooms’ natural savory qualities seriously shine.
2. Shishito peppers. This Japanese pepper variety, which is high in vitamins A and C, is “wildly in season” in California right now, says Winegard. “We’re going to grill them and make a puree with preserved lemons, add some sesame seeds, and serve them as a side dish.” Yes, please.
3. Nasturtium flowers. Kenney’s restaurants are known for sprinkling dishes with vibrant edible flowers. “I love the different colors of orange and the flavor of the leaves, which are very peppery; the flowers are a bit sweeter,” says Winegard, who grows them in the garden at Plant Food and Wine. (Pictured below.)
4. Chlorella. A surprising addition to Plant Food and Wine’s dessert menu: algae. Winegard stumbled upon his celebrated chlorella olive oil cake recipe after adding a spoonful of Sun Potion chlorella powder to a batch of batter. (That’s it, pictured above.) “It has a flavor similar to green tea and adds color to your normal olive oil cake,” he says of the amino acid- and protein-packed superfood.
5. Jackfruit. Winegard discovered his latest sweet obsession at a Vietnamese market in LA. “It’s almost like mango, papaya, and pineapple, but it has really great texture, too.”
6. Sunchokes. The iron-rich root, also known as Jerusalem artichoke, has a mixed reputation in culinary circles (one word: “fartichoke”). But that’s not stopping Winegard. “We’ll just roast them…I have an idea of doing something with sunflower seeds, since they’re in the same family. But they’re also really nice sliced thin and served raw with some olive oil.”
7. Beets. “A lot of people have been doing savory beet and berry dishes, and I thought a beet dessert would be really cool,” he says (think carrot cake, but incorporating the crimson superfood instead). Can we volunteer to taste test?
For more information, visit matthewkenneycuisine.com
(Photos: Matthew Kenney Cuisine)