As a chef, world traveler and environmental advocate, Gabe Kennedy is passionate and dedicated to connecting people, food and culture. Raised in Boulder, Colorado in a household of healers, Gabe learned the importance of food as a universal language. His culinary journey began at the age of 14 in local Boulder restaurants — and by 18, he was honing his skills under David Bouley at the eponymous Bouley in Tribeca. With additional experience at esteemed establishments including Eleven Madison Park, Cru, and Blue Hill at Stone Barnes, Gabe has also been a private chef for a number of tastemakers, professional athletes, and dignitaries, including The Clinton Family.
Along with Hudson Gaines, the two co-founded Plant People, a line of organic, full-spectrum CBD based products with the mission to heal and connect people through the power of plants. It was on a hike that Hudson and Gabe discovered a shared life experience — that both had undergone conventional surgeries after traumatic spinal injuries. The traditional pharmaceuticals that they were prescribed left them feeling dissociated, irritable, and generally unwell. Disillusioned, they turned away from conventional western medicine and found healing and wholeness on a plant-based path to recovery, lifted by the power in cannabis along with eastern and western herbs. Inspired to share nature’s brilliance, Plant People was born.
After experiencing the profound benefits of their daily Calm and Everyday+ Capsules and the superior quality and taste of their Hemp-Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil, we were anxious to share their story with our community and get their olive oil into the hands of local chefs and culinary enthusiasts. Today, we go behind the scenes with Gabe to better understand the inspiration and philosophy behind Plant People, his personal culinary style and favorite ways to experiment with and enjoy their CBD olive oil, how and where he fosters creativity inside and outside of the kitchen, and of course, his Boketto Moment.
*And be sure to join us this Saturday, 10/27 at Chairlift’s Spritz Market from 4-7pm for a special Plant People CBD Olive Oil tasting alongside local Chef Olivia Wilson.
What is the inspiration and philosophy behind Plant People?
Plant People is inspired by the ground we walk on, the trees we climb, the plants we smell and the planet that gives us so much. It is an attempt to connect people and the planet, forging ahead with the idea that we are not separate from nature, we are nature. Plant People is inspired from regeneration, of people and the earth. Understanding that there are better ways to live and heal than what we are often presented with. Plant People is committed to making the world a better place. Through mindful practices and regenerative agriculture, perhaps we can make this life a bit more enjoyable.
As a child of an acupuncturist and herbalist, and chiropractor and acupuncturist, I feel as though the DNA of Plant People is in my DNA. However, it was only after a horrific ski crash that left me with an obliterated disc and fractured spine that I realized the true power of plants and herbs. My recovery comprised of high level nutrition, alternative medicine, herbs and cannabis. Plant People pulls inspiration from these tenants. Alongside our high quality and innovative products, we exist to connect people to the natural world, and empower them in making alternative and altogether more positive choices when it comes to healing the body and mind.
We understand that you have a culinary background. Would you mind describing your culinary style?
My culinary style is certainly rooted in plants and wellness. I often break the norm and combine unique and unusual flavors or ingredients. Food should provide nourishment, speak to a time and place, as well as be an experience. My inspiration comes from walks through new neighborhoods, old books, new books, smells, dreams, accidents and calculated efforts. Everywhere I go, I stay curious and ask questions, so it is hard to put my food into a box. Hyper-seasonal, often simple, and always geared towards wellness and feeling better after you eat. Food is one of the most intimate interactions we have with each other and by far the most intimate interaction we have with the planet.
How and where do you foster creativity inside and outside of the kitchen?
I find inspiration in the natural world. Nature is able to do everything way better then we can. It can be a challenge living in NYC, but when I get my feet into dirt and tuck into the wild, I am at home. Creativity often comes from limited or challenging circumstance, rather than having anything and everything at one's disposal. I often find myself in unusual situations, where whatever is made is simply a manifestation of that circumstance.
I love music, so writing music, or listening to music can often spark my creativity. It puts me into a zone, and then things just start gushing. I have recently been very intrigued by watercolor, so staring out my window, painting the landscape or dreaming of a distant land has been a new and exciting way of getting into a state of mind. As much as I enjoy my experiences out of the kitchen or on an adventure, I find home to be a sacred space. Being able to slow down, sit and be rooted for a weekend is also one of the rewarding things I can treat myself to.
Favorite ways to experiment with CBD olive oil?
I am an olive oil fanatic. To be honest, I just drizzle it on everything. One of my secrets to deliciousness is to top any and all dishes with some olive oil! Recently, I have enjoyed incorporating the EVOO into more sweet savory applications. I am just dipping my toes into the world of pastry and dessert, so this is helping with the transition (chuckle). Most recently, I have made vanilla ice cream, local honey, maldon sea salt, black truffle and EVOO. That was a mind blowing combination. Another favorite is a poached pear, sabayon, amaretto, frozen concord grapes and EVOO. My tip, just try it out on literally anything. Ahh it also works quite well as a massage oil.
How do you visualize or describe your personal Boketto Moment?
My Boketto Moment is waking up early, the air is still chilly and the birds are starting to sing. The crisp air is noticeable on my nostrils as I see my breath in the air. I put on a pot of water for some coffee and simply sit and listen. After the coffee is prepared, I hold the cup, it warms me. Slowly but surely the sun begins to warm the land I need to take off my jacket. I can feel the rays hitting my skin, washing over me. The breeze is gentle and refreshing. The world begins to come alive.