Food is noble when it unites us. The Michelin-starred chef Pietro Leemann, Ambassador of Expo Milano 2015, put forth the idea that September 15 will become the Vegetarian Day of Sharing, since vegetarian food is the way to respond to the challenges of a sustainable and equitable way of "Feeding the Planet".
On September 1 at Expo Milano 2015, for the first time in the world, the leaders of the world's major religions gathered to bless the food according to their own rituals. What was the significance of this event in your opinion?
From my point of view, this event was the high point of Expo Milano 2015, because the food has been considered in all its aspects: the right kind of food, healthy, environmentally-friendly and that feeds the hungry and becomes food for the soul. The perfect food takes into account all these aspects and is a vehicle of communion between peoples. Food is noble when it unites us. .
For the occasion, you created a dish that was enjoyed by the religious representatives and the general public. How would you describe it?
It's called L’ombelico del mondo (The navel of the world) which encompasses several meanings. The dish is comprised of basmati rice that represents the mix of cultures, there is saffron, which is a tribute to Milan, home of the Universal Exposition. There is celery and cabbage, which references Northern Europe and also hot pepper sauce, typical of the Americas. Of course I could not forget my roots so I added some Swiss salt. This dish is uniting because it can be eaten by anyone, in fact, it is a vegan dish containing rice and vegetables, foods accepted by all religions, there is no garlic and onion, so it is suited to the Hindu religion. And the oil used to season it is kosher and halal.
Is vegetarian food the answer to the theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life"?
Yes, because the vegetarian diet is the most sustainable and the one that respects people and the planet most of all: it will certainly be the food of the future.
Will there be other opportunities to increase public awareness on following a vegetarian diet?
On September 14 and 15 at Identità Expo where I’ll be cooking with Mark Moriarty. He won the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015, with a vegetarian dish. Also on the morning of September 15 'Vegetarian food and spirituality ", is taking place in the Slow Food space, while the afternoon, again at Identità Expo , the topic of the evolution of cuisine in the restaurants will be addressed: Some chefs will share their experiences, explaining how their kitchens are becoming more and more "green".
Can Expo Milano 2015 be in your opinion a "sounding board" for this message?
It's the best place. As an Ambassador of Expo Milano 2015, I will send a short letter to the chefs of all the pavilions, as I would like September 15 to become the Vegetarian Day of Sharing. I would like more vegetarian dishes to be included on the menus, encouraging the public to eat in a healthier, more balanced and sustainable manner.
In addition to the pavilions of the countries and the nine Clusters who offer their own food, Expo Milano 2015 has identified partners and official concessionaires who manage the many restaurants available on the Exhibition Site: their details can be found on the 'Food and Drink' page the Expo Milano 2015 website.