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The cuisine is a hymn to nature and life

Pietro Leeman is a vegetarian chef celebrated by the best-known gastronomic guides. His favourite dish? Rice, lentils and vegetables seasoned with ginger

He has 48 years and was born in Locarno, the founder of "Joia", the vegetarian restaurant celebrated by the best-known gastronomic guides.
Less known are the choices of life and of cooking of Peter Leeman.
We thus discover that Leeman is a man who has never satisfied the most celebrated flavors. Struck when was young by a Bavarian vanilla prepared by chef Angelo Conti Rossini, has plunged in the art of culinary with a voracious passion..
He explored the nouvelle cousine, then he has left involve the creative cuisine of Gualtiero Marchesi in Milan.
Then his "fever" of knowledge has pushed over in the East. Two years elapsed between China and Japan "cooking and eating a lot, after having tried almost every food I realized that I did not like meat more and then I stopped eating. Well-fed, I returned to Europe in 1989 and, together with a group of friends, I founded Joia in Milan, my culinary adventure. "
Joja is the “culinary island” that Leeman has built to divulge the culinary taste personally gained in years of experience and this year, in September, will celebrate its first twenty years of life.
Thus we discover the soul of a gourmet chef who has open mind, a profound knowledge, an intimate serenity and a rigorous ethical conscience.
His desire several times repeated in our interview? Share his food philosophy with others. "My cuisine is a hymn to nature and life, while being rigorous is playful and light," he said.
A positive and natural cuisine, in short. ... that hopes joy.

My philosophy.
"The diet should be a vehicle for well-being and pleasure. Who cooks assumes a responsibility to achieve this goal. In addition to quality food should be natural: good for the body and stimulating for the mind and the spirit of sharing. To me it means a vegetarian, nutrient every sensory level, and seasonal. My dishes are composed of elements that have separated although they remain a common sense: I can work separating each ingredient that turned into a tasty package. The guests who taste my dishes receives many tastes separate, the palate thus receives more stimuli that keep alive the relationship with nature expressed by each element. "

Italian cuisine abroad. "At first people who went abroad was thought that an easy thing, just knowing how to make pizza or pasta. Now the second generation of Italians want to give a higher image of Italian food, not without difficulty. Our kitchen collecting the most successful in the world, but for emerging it at the right level should be a team effort. Italy has not a promotional structure for products as Sopexha for France. But many restaurant have incentives to make quality ... The important thing is that we think abroad not only for doing catering but also to stimulate a flow of food and wine tourism to Italy. "

Extra virgin olive oil. "It is the symbol of Italian and a concentration of health. For my recipes usually I will use a basic one. Except two dishes: for "perseverance" I give a touch of strength with an oil Abruzzo, in my salads I use some fresh and fragrant from Puglia and Sicily. "

Products. "I privilege seasonal and near ones. For example, I grow aromatic herbs in my garden. In few weeks I will plant buckwheat with my brother."

Wine. "My wine list includes a thousand of labels. Personally I prefer the "natural", derived from native vines."

The dish that I prefer, "Rice, lentils and vegetables seasoned with ginger"

New ideas. "I wish to disclose my concept of kitchen oriented to welfare to the largest number of people. For this goal I do courses, welcome students, write books, work with the Institute for Cancer .... "

Philosophy of life. "Depending on how we feel our present we will see our future. If I eat well I am more polished, less aggressive, more thoughtful: I am a better person, more responsible. Conversely, if I eat bad I can behave oddly and, above all, far from the great plan of life. "

Ristorante Joia
Via Panfilo Castaldi, 18
20124 Milano
Tel. 0039.02.2049244

by Monica Sommacampagna
06 july 2009, Food & Fun > Gastronomy