Kakhuo Aoe’s ambition was to become a major businessman in the United States, but the attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 made him take a 180° turn: he reflected on life, the human being and peace, and turned to Buddhism. Now a monk and head chef at a Tokyo temple, his aim is to spread the teachings of Shojin cuisine. Author of cookery books whose recipes “nourish the body and the spirit”, guest on television and speaker, in January 2024 he visited Luxembourg for the first time.

Thanks to the collaboration between EHTL and the Japanese Embassy, the students had the chance to meet Kakhuo Aoe and follow a presentation that will have the effect of raising awareness. Indeed, Shojin cuisine invites us to reconsider our relationship with food, and encourages us to adopt a healthier mindset towards the way we prepare and consume food.

In a society of overproduction, overconsumption and frenetic activity, food is far from being considered at its true value: overabundant, it is often ingested in excess and wasted without a care in the world.

The age-old philosophy that gave rise to shojin cuisine conveys inspiring precepts that can be put into practice by non-Buddhists, simply in the interests of greater well-being and a lifestyle more respectful of natural resources.

“Cherish food as a member of the family”, an attitude that invites us to avoid waste, and to repackage vegetable peelings and offcuts.

“Become aware of where food comes from: the earth, the sun, the rain, the seeds, the labor involved, the journey it takes to get to our plate.”

“Express your gratitude for the efforts you’ve made, don’t forget that our lives are based on a sum of sacrifices. Ask yourself, is your life worthy of the nourishment you receive?”

“Control your appetite instead of letting yourself be controlled by the desire to eat compulsively.”

“Don’t forget that we become what we eat: by entering our bodies, food becomes a part of ourselves.”

At the end of the conference, participants were able to taste two examples of Shojin cuisine: Hiryuzu and Maki-e pudding. These refined dishes were prepared according to Kakhuo Aoe’s recipes by Mr. Tomohisa Mitsuhashi, the ambassador’s personal chef, and EHTL students.

Three words to sum up this unique encounter: gratitude, respect and “itadakimasu”.

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