Chef Matthew Kenney Opens a Three-Story Vegan Food Paradise Pop-Up In Dubai

Famed chef Matthew Kenney is bringing four of his vegan food concepts to three levels at the Expo 2020 Dubai, a world exposition that has been bringing together the best of human innovation for 170 years. At the Expo—which will run through March 31, 2022—Kenney’s plant-based concepts can be found throughout Terra, The Sustainability Pavilion, which is suited for the chef’s mission of crafting food that is beneficial to the health of humans and the environment. 

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On the ground floor of Terra, Expo visitors will find Veg’d, a new fast-food concept Kenney first launched in March in California, where it took over a shuttered Del Taco location. The Dubai menu mimics its California counterpart with a selection of burgers slathered with Veg’d signature sauce; bowls that include a wide range of fresh vegetables, tofu, spices, and dressings; along with desserts such as brownies. The highlight of the breakfast menu at Veg’d is JUST Egg, a sustainable vegan egg replacer made from mung beans that is featured in its breakfast burritos and sandwiches (which come with JUST Egg, sausage, cheddar, tempeh bacon, and smashed tater tots). 

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Moving up to the first floor of the Terra pavilion, guests will find XYST, a concept that specializes in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern comfort cuisine. During the day, XYST offers a variety of savory tarts, sandwiches, cold soups, desserts, and a wide selection of tea, along with plant-based patisserie such as cheesecakes and mille feuille. At night, XYST the space transforms into a cocktail bar with small tapas-style plates of cold or hot mezze such as falafel, kofta, olives, flatbreads, stuffed peppers, and vegan halloumi.

On Terra’s rooftop, Kenney’s MUDRA serves pizza topped with house-made cheeses, sushi dishes, kabobs, and cocktails. Other attractions here are an open kitchen, a DJ, and extraordinary views of the entire exposition. 

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And if three levels of vegan concepts is not enough, Kenney’s M.A.K.E. food truck can be found on the grounds of Expo serving grab-and-go options such as smoothies, noodle bowls, sandwiches, and wraps for those visitors on the move. 

“In recent years, there has been so much attention on the benefits of plant-based living—not only for our health but also for the environment. It’s all about cooking healthy, sustainable dishes by using clean, organic and unprocessed ingredients to create vibrant dishes,” Kenney said in a statement. “We are excited to be part of Expo 2020 Dubai and look forward to continuing creating innovative dishes that are familiar to everyone, but with an innovative spin.”

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Matthew Kenney expands plant-based concepts to the Middle East

In addition to taking over the Terra pavilion at Expo, Kenney operates other innovative food concepts in the Middle East. 

In 2018, Kenney partnered with Saudi Arabian Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud—chief executive officer of asset management company KBW Ventures—to develop the Folia menu, which consists of a variety of plant-based dishes, including dessert. The menu initially launched at the famed Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA but has since expanded to five Four Seasons properties. In 2019, Four Seasons Hotel added the Folia menu to its Bahrain Bay location, marking the first time that Kenney’s creations have been served in the Middle East. The menu also became available at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dubai at Jumeirah Beach in 2019.

This month, the Folia menu made a homecoming for Prince Khaled, himself a longtime vegan, when it launched at the Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre in Saudi Arabia. Just in time for the annual Riyadh Season celebration, the menu features a six-course experience with dishes such as Cacio e Pepe, Macadamia Chevre Beetroot, and Lasagne layered wit heirloom tomato, pistachio pesto, and macadamia ricotta.

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“On a personal level, the launch of Folia for Riyadh Season is truly the biggest moment in our collaboration with Chef Kenney to date,” Prince Khaled said in a statement. “KBW Ventures is proud to present innovative, healthful dishes, curated by a culinary master in my hometown, Riyadh, as part of the Kingdom’s celebration of hospitality and entertainment.”

Matthew Kenney’s vegan empire continues to grow

Kenney’s three-level concept at Expo 2020 in Dubai is only a small sampling of the more than 40 vegan businesses he operates worldwide. From fine-dining staple Plant Food + Wine in Venice, CA to chocolaterie CASSE-COU in New York City to newly opened eatery Botanica in the Maldives to helping 158-year-old French pastry chain Ladurée open a vegan location, Kenney has left no leaf unturned when it comes to exploring an abundance of plant-based concepts. 

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One concept set to explode is New Deli, a vegan deli Kenney first in Venice in 2018. Earlier this year, Kenney’s company Matthew Kenney Cuisine (MKC) signed a five-year partnership with Canadian plant-based e-commerce platform PlantX, which acquired Kenney’s New Deli brand (now known as XMarket) along with its brick-and-mortar store. Under the agreement, PlantX will expand the vegan deli to more than 100 locations. After a successful opening in Squamish, British Columbia, the partnership is bringing XMarket to San Diego with a grand opening celebration this Saturday. 

For more about Matthew Kenney, read:
You Won’t Miss the Seafood at Matthew Kenney’s New Vegan Restaurant
Chef Matthew Kenney’s 40+ Vegan Restaurants: The Complete Guide
Chef Matthew Kenney Opens Rhode Island’s First Vegan Drive-Thru