'Cooking is life. It is pleasure. It makes people happy. It is truth. So if people are interested in shojin, first they need to throw out their microwaves and embrace the slowness.’
‘Vegetable Whisperer’ Toshio Tanahashi returns to Marylebone with a shojin-ryori double header celebrating this fascinating plant-based style of cooking. Introduced to Kyoto monasteries by the Chinese in the 7th century, shojin is all about “moving forward whilst respecting the old, and keeping oneself pure” and Toshio is a true master of his art. For him, it isn’t just a matter of technique, but a spiritual experience that he hopes will lead towards greater understanding of the way we view our food and our dietary habits.
On Saturday, Toshio will be running two master classes, teaching students how cooking can go beyond chopping, peeling and grinding and become both a form of meditation and exercise. In his own words, “explanation is all very well, but true understanding does not come without listening to the silent voice of vegetables”. Then on Sunday he’ll be giving a talk on the ancient philosophy of shojin-ryori before serving up a whateverthe-Japanese-word-is-for-smörgåsbord of his favourite dishes, including his signature ‘goma dofu’ (sesame tofu), which he painstakingly grinds by hand using a traditional suribachi and surikogi. An all-time classic dish from one of our all-time favourite chefs.
Spiritual and culinary enlightenment await...