Essence Cuisine London
words/photos Chris Gudenzi, FF Editor
Cuisine: Raw Vegan
Closed: Nov 2018
Chef Mathew Kenney
Andreas Bozarth Fornell
Although this raw vegan concept closed its doors permanently in 2018, it is quite worthy of being showcased here for the many bold moves the owners and staff undertook. An imaginative concept to say the least and we are sorry to see it go.
Matthew Kenney (b.1964) is the world’s leading plant-based chef, the writer of several best-selling cookbooks, a culinary educator, and an entrepreneur specialising in the plant-based lifestyle.
Having grown up on the coast of Maine (USA) and being an avid outdoorsman, Kenney’s success lies within his innate understanding of seasonal and local ingredients, his classical training and extensive travel background. As a raw food chef, Kenney’s application of contemporary methods and techniques along with a firm commitment to innovative recipes and food aesthetics is leading plant-based cuisine to the mainstream.
Andreas Bozarth Fornell is a Stockholm-based architect with a background in designing intriguing interiors around the world for high-profile fashion brands like Acne, Sandro and numerous others.
Fornell is enthralled with the idea of art and ambiance. Keen on experimenting with the innate properties of materials to create concepts that are relevant and riveting.
Bart Roman is a Belgium-UK based entrepreneur who earned his stripes in the Belgian nightlife scene. At the moment he heads up 4 leading music festivals in Belgium. He founded Essence Cuisine. in 2014. It was the first contemporary, plant-based, pop-up in Ghent - Belgium, which received rave reviews from food critics as well as the public.
The seed was planted but it took him another 3 years to finalize the perfect combination in food, architecture, team and business partner (Wim Van der Borght) to the concept that Essence Cuisine is now.
The biggest change he made from the original concept came shortly after his first visit to the Hippocrates Health Institute in West-Palm Beach in 2014, where he truly experienced the impact plant-based nutrition can have on one's personal well-being.
The same year he visited MAKE, the restaurant owned by Matthew Kenney in Santa-Monica, where he met with the chef himself after being blown away by the menu. They soon became friends and started working on a new food concept in Europe - and that’s how it all started.
I had the opportunity to stop by Essence for lunch to meet with Anika, the PR manager. We talked about the design, the founders and the food. I started with the Red Smoked Humus with Sprouted Crackers; some of the best humus I have tasted.
This was followed with their signature Heirloom Tomato Lasagna, This is a raw restaurant so the dish is not noodle based, it is layered using sliced zucchini with pistachio pesto. I was looking forward to this having never tried anything like it and to be honest,
I was pleasantly surprised. I think it comes down to cold food environments and of course acceptance of the raw food genre. It was my first venture into this venue and I can honestly say, though pricey, I would return for the food and certainly the uber cool atmosphere.
Note on the pricing, yes it is London and yes these are top shelf ingredients but was is nice is that they have a 2 tier pricing menu, one for to-go and one for eat-in.
See full menu below.