Thursday, 21 October 2010

shojin cuisine seminar

First of all, with my apologies for not being able to update satomi's fridge for so long, I would like to thank everybody who is reading my blog and sending me comments. It makes me feel special, really. Thank you very much.
I had busiest month ever this September and I went to Japan for two weeks for holiday. I'm back now!

It was about a month ago, I went to Shojin Ryori (cuisine) seminar. Shojin Ryori is primarily vegetarian, in order to keep with the general Buddhist precept of Ahimsa (non violence).
Ms Nishihara who is the coordinator of Cultural Project London, kindly send me an invitation and I also invited our head chef.

My bad image of Shojin Ryori was boring, plain taste, brown and traditionally eaten in temples. Also good image is healthy, that's all.
Well, it was the first time for me to face to Shojin Ryori culture. And I was totally impressed by Mr Toshio Tanahashi who is chef, teacher and organizer of Zecoo Culinary Institute.
He's trained at Gessenji Temple in Shiga prefecture for three years. And He's learned Shojin Ryori and spirit of Zen. In 1992, he opened his restaurant Gesshinkyo in Tokyo.
He's never done any advertising for his restaurant and he had only 3 customers when he opened. It was not an easy start, he said. But Gesshinkyo become the hardest restaurant to get a reservation and one of the popular Shojin Ryori restaurant in Japan and abroad. After few years, Tanahashi has been featured by the New York Times, Japan Times, The Sunday Times, The Financial Times and Telegraph magazine. After he closed Gesshinkyo in 2007, he organised Zecoow Culinary Institute and in 2009, he took up to the role of Director of Culinary art and Design at Kyoto University of Art and Design.

At Gesshinkyo, he starts a day with grating sesame seeds. He doesn't need to see, he can hear when its ready. He was demonstrating grating sesame seeds at seminar. He told us to close our eyes and just listen and smell.

It was about 100 peoples in the room and I don't think every body would smell hand full grated sesame seeds from front to back. I'm sure everybody thought same as I did.
He started to grate sesame seeds and I closed my eyes and listen carefully. I could hear different sounds from beginning and ending but it was impossible to tell what stage are sesame now. And I started to smell very intense toasty flavor of sesame. I thought somebody walking around with sesame seeds in the room. I opened my eyes. But no body is moving and I accidentally made eye contact with a mid age lady sitting crosswise behind me.

He believes "Chi" can be delivered and received from the food only if handmade. So in his kitchen there is no cooking/processing machinery. And he decide and create dishes on the paper. He knows every single vegetables' characteristic and voice. We've tasted his signature dish sesame tofu, also Pumpkin and fig jelly with miso at the end of the seminar. They were really tasty and I've never imagined such a colorful Shojin Ryori is exist. Sadly there is no more than 5 Shojin Ryori restaurant in Japan now. I don't know what I can start, I want to keep my antenna to Shojin Ryori now.


もう1ヶ月程前になってしまいますが、精進料理のセミナーに行ってきました。 幸運にもCultural Project Londonの西原様より招待頂いたので、せっかくと思い、弊社のヘッドシェフも誘って参加しました。
私が抱いていた悪いイメージの精進料理と言えば、お寺のお坊さんが食べる、地味で味気なく、茶色っぽい食事でした。良いイメージはと言えば、ヘルシーで、それ以外には特にこれと言って特徴がない料理の様に思っていました。 精進料理初心者の私、今回、棚橋俊夫先生の授業を受ける事になりました。 棚橋先生は、料理人でもあり、教師でもあり、是食キュリナリーインスティテュートの創立者でもあります。彼は、3年間滋賀県にある月心寺で修行し、そこで精進料理と、“禅”の精神を学びます。 そして1992年、表参道に精進レストラン、月心居をオープンします。宣伝等しなかったため、始めは客入りが3人程、という日が続きました。そのときはかなり苦労されたようです。それから何年かたって、月心居は、予約の取れない人気店になり、New York Times, Japan Times, The Sunday Times, The Financial Times and Telegraph magazine等で記事を採り上げられるまでになりました。月心居を閉店した後から現在に至るまでは、京都造形芸術大学で講師をされています。



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