AcademicsSlowing Down With The Vegetable Whisperer

During the two-day event, Chef Tanahashi prepared an exclusive six-course dinner for 22 guests and shared his philosophy on shōjin ryōri, a traditional Japanese form of Buddhist cuisine, through two intimate workshops with our culinary students.

Toshio workshop
Chef Tanahashi is an eminent practitioner of shōjin ryōri, a long-established tradition that is observed by monks in Japan. The mostly vegetarian cuisine focuses on the spiritual dimension of cooking, to feel thankful towards each ingredient. For that reason, he uses no kitchen appliances, instead taking time and a meditative approach as he peels and grinds the vegetables, creating dishes from scratch.
Toshio workshop

Through this Distinguished Chef Series, our goal is to collaborate with influential chefs around the world to expose our students to a wide range of cuisines and skills. Chef Toshio Tanahashi’s culinary philosophy has taken us beyond the traditional forms of cuisines that we are familiar with and opens our minds to more possibilities. More than that, he has also imparted a sense of mindfulness towards health, food and the environment, that we should all take away from this.

Tanja Florenthal, Academic Director of César Ritz Colleges Bouveret campus.


At the age of 27, he left his job in advertising and spent three years learning the cuisine from a Buddhist nun. He was determined to understand more about this aspect of Japanese culture. Today, he is at the forefront of a slow-food gastronomy philosophy, one that favours local seasonal produce, embraces less waste and reveres vegetables. After closing his highly acclaimed shōjin ryōri restaurant in 2007, he established the Zecoow Culinary Institute in Kyoto, and has since given demonstrations around the globe including V&A, TEDxTokyo and the Venice Biennale.

I am delighted to be part of this programme and able to interact with the students, to share with them my philosophy of shōjin ryōri. The students showed great potential and have clearly benefited from the state-of-the-art culinary facilities at the campus. It was a pleasure to collaborate on this and I look forward to returning for future demonstrations.

Chef Toshio Tanahashi.

Chef Tanahashi’s visit started with a visit to the Mosimann Collection followed by Apicius building, home to the new cutting-edge and multi-faceted culinary training facility at Le Bouveret, that was launched in April 2019. The innovative six-course menu featured ingredients that were sourced from the markets of Légumes Riviera in Vevey. These included Canapes of Beetroot, Black Daikon, Beetroot Sprouts and Fig. Next was his famed Sesame Tofu, which he once sold at a store in Kyoto, served with Turnip Sauce as well as Asparagus and Cabbage.

Toshio workshop

Day two of Chef Tanahashi’s visit included two workshop sessions of 47 students in total at the Apicius kitchens. A handful of volunteers were selected to work with him on demonstrations of the art of shōjin ryōri.

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