As I arrived at the Matthew Kenney Culinary school in Pranburi, there was an enthusiastic energy in the test kitchen. Animated students
in their partially-stained chef’s whites stopped to converse with seasoned instructors who offered their sage advice, all the while
photographers were capturing each dish being presented by the student chefs. This was graduation day and excitement was in the air.
I was at the culinary school (the first of its kind in Asia) to witness the culmination of a 28-day intensive classically structured plant-based culinary academy at the Evason Hua Hin. Matthew Kenney Culinary was created to cater to those interested in plant-based cuisine, and the art of its preparation. With locations in Venice, California, Miami, Florida, Belfast, Maine, and now Hua Hin, the vegan culinary school emphasises the use of whole, organic, unprocessed, plant-based foods to achieve healthy, aesthetically refined and flavourful cuisine. Graduating were four young ladies: Nikki, Lucia, Bestie and Mariane, and each student had prepared three courses – a starter, a main course and a dessert.
All of the food was plant based – no animal or dairy products were used for this unique course, and all of the food was raw and many relied on nut milks. One by one the students presented their dishes, explaining where they got their inspiration saying things like, “I am using what is here, what is local, what is fresh”. Or, “I am utilising all elements in nature”.
Once each student chef presented and explained their dishes, they were asked to go off together to self critique their own food and to learn how to give and accept constructive feedback. Then the instructors (Celia, Juliana and Christina) tasted each dish, digging into the finished product and dissecting the ingredients, identifying the strengths and weaknesses in each as they went – what worked together, what was a miss, and why.
Once all the dishes were tasted, the chefs returned and each student received feedback regarding their dishes. With the tasting complete, the students were eager to accept their graduation certificates. When Evason Hua Hin was approached by the Matthew Kenney Culinary school to open a branch there, management saw it as an opportunity to offer something different to its guests, and attract a new type of traveller. They converted what were meeting rooms into state-of-the-art kitchens replete with 16 marble top work stations, each equipped with a dehydrator, blender and more. That Evason already had a large herb garden and a mushroom hut only sweetened the deal.
The school is divided into two kitchens, the cold kitchen and the hot kitchen. In the cold kitchen, nothing is prepared using heat over 115 degrees – under this temperature the enzymes are kept intact, and the dish is considered raw. The hot kitchen focuses on cooked, plant-based recipes. The curriculum is centred on the use of whole, organic, unprocessed plant-based foods to achieve healthy, aesthetically refined and flavourful cuisine.
Core programming focuses on the “Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine” and offer students comprehensive training in the principles in the art of raw food, as well as cooked plant-based cuisine classes that further the modern, creative approach to preparing nutritious foods. “Our academy meets the growing demand for culinary tourism by offering an unmatched experience in one of the world’s most beautiful destinations,” said Matthew Kenney. “The Evason resort offers the quintessential stage for plantbased culinary instruction, with access to Thailand’s incredible local ingredients, flavours and customs.”
Two of Matthew Kenney’s core food programs (Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine – level 1, and Advanced Raw Cuisine – level 2) are taught at this location. The recently introduced level 3 – Designing a Menu – is only offered in California and Maine. The course appeals to both professional and amateur chefs. Students have enrolled from Japan, Korea, South Africa, Britain, Australia, America, and of course Thailand. With tuition running $6-$8,000 USD, the month long course is serious business for those who attend. As part of the enrolment package, students are provided with accommodations at the resort.
To learn how to register for the course, visit: www.matthewkenneycuisine.com/ mkc-thailand In addition to the month-long intensive course, weekend workshops are also available. Courses include Everyday Raw Detox, Essentials of Raw Cuisine, and Gourmet Raw Cheese. The tuition fees vary from 8,000 – 15,600 THB per course. Saturday classes are held from 1 PM to 6 PM and Sunday classes operate from 10 AM to 3 PM. To learn more about weekend workshops, visit: www.sixsenses.com/evason-resorts/ hua-hin/destination/news/matthewkenney-culinary