The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) were adopted by the United Nations in September 2015, and according to the ” Survey of Sei-katsu-sha on the SDGs” released by major advertising agency Dentsu in April 2022, awareness of the SDGs has increased significantly over the years, with companies that are actively working on the SDGs rated highly by respondents as “image-enhancing (40.0%),” “favorable/want to support (35.2%),” and “trustworthy (26.6%). The survey also found that among those who are highly motivated to implement the SDGs, a relatively high percentage of Generation Z respondents answered that they would “consume plant-based foods, such as vegan and plant-based foods, with less meat and fish” as an action to implement the SDGs, compared to other generations. It is likely that plant-based foods will be the focus of more attention in the future by the highly communicative Generation Z.

Against this backdrop, “Sustainable Table,” an event aimed at communicating and promoting sustainable food-related initiatives, was held at The Capitol Hotel Tokyu on May 15, 2022. The first chapter of the event, which is planned to be developed as a series, was themed “Plant-Based Food”. The chefs were Hitoshi Sugiura, Project Advisor Chef for the Japan Sustainable Restaurant Association and Executive Chef of ONODERA Group, and Toshinori Sogabe, Executive Chef and Deputy General Manager of The Capitol Hotel Tokyu. In addition to a talk session with both chefs and a plant-based lunch course meal that incorporated an SDGs perspective, the day also delved into the importance of sustainability in food and the expected role of plant-based food in sustainability.

[Executive Chef, ONODERA GROUP ]
Hitoshi Sugiura Hitoshi Sugiura (left)

Born in Osaka, Japan, he moved to the United States in 2009. He has worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in LA and NYC under Joaquim Splichal, the recipient of the “James Beard” award, the culinary industry’s “Academy Award”. He has been the Japanese representative chef for two consecutive years for Emmy Award ceremonies, NYC Tiffany private events, and receptions held at the official residence of the Ambassador of Japan to the United Nations for former Prime Minister Abe, presidents of countries, and state guests. He is currently a project advisor for the Japan Sustainable Restaurant Association, which promotes a sustainable society through social contribution activities from various aspects of food under the title of “Social Food Gastronomy”.

[Executive Chef and Deputy General Manager, The Capitol Hotel Tokyu]
Toshinori Sogabe (pictured right)

Born in Kanagawa Prefecture. After graduating from a culinary school in Osaka, he joined a hotel in Ehime prefecture, Japan. 26 years old, he went to France to study French cuisine in earnest. After returning to Japan, he joined Nagoya Tokyu Hotel in 1987, became the chef of “Coucagno” at Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel in 2001, and was awarded a star in “Michelin Tokyo ’08” in 2007, became the Executive Chef of Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu in 2008, and also the Deputy General Manager from 2017. He will assume his current position in April 2019. He has been pursuing a new culinary world by creating menus inspired by paintings and pursuing hospitality that leaves a lasting impression on customers, while also focusing on training younger chefs.

[Japan Sustainable Restaurant Association] (Planning and cooperation) ]
The Japan Sustainable Restaurant Association, in collaboration with its UK headquarters, which also evaluates sustainable restaurant awards in the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants,” known as the Academy Awards for food, to solve global sustainability issues such as climate change, deforestation and other global environmental issues, as well as human rights and labor issues. and sustainability ratings and campaigns. Through building supplier, restaurant-restaurant, and consumer communities, the company works to solve food system issues and promote food sustainability.

We want to communicate sustainability through food to a wide range of people.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Chef Sogabe had been planning to promote sustainability through food. When the decision was made to hold this event, the first person who came to mind was Chef Sugiura, Japan’s leading expert on vegan cuisine. He immediately contacted Chef Sugiura and received his approval, which made this event possible.

Chef Sogabe: “The SDGs have a very broad scope. We will be introducing a series of events, the first of which will feature vegan dishes and non-alcoholic drinks under the theme of ‘plant-based food'”.
Chef Sugiura: “Rather than serving vegan food, I hope that this event will be an opportunity to raise awareness of vegetables while eating meat and fish in our daily lives. With the growing importance of food diversity, we hope that people will experience how plant-based foods have less impact on the environment and are healthier for the body.”

“Plant-based food” is a sustainable lifestyle option.

The Japan Sustainable Restaurant Association is also cooperating in the planning of this year’s event. Representative Director Takeshi Shimotaya gave a speech about the association’s activities and the importance of plant-based food.

Mr. Shimotaya: “The Sustainable Restaurant Association of Japan (SRA-J) is the Japanese branch of an organization established in the UK in 2010 with the goal of creating a sustainable food cycle. SRA-J works with restaurants and suppliers to promote sustainability in order to realize a sustainable food system. Our ratings are also used as an evaluation indicator for ‘The World’s 50 Best Restaurants’, known as the Academy Awards for food.”

Mr. Shimotaya: “In the rating, the survey is divided into 10 items for each of the three perspectives of ‘Procurement, Society, and Environment,’ and one of the items is ‘Use more vegetables and better meat,’ including vegan and plant-based foods. Not all animal agriculture is bad, but industrial animal agriculture and other activities have a variety of impacts, including climate change and other greenhouse gas emissions, the use of a lot of water and land, health problems caused by excessive use of antibiotics and hormones, soil contamination, and deforestation.
Compared to vegetables, meat production is considered to have a higher environmental impact, and vegan and plant-based diets are options for avoiding meat from an environmental perspective. Even if one does not go so far as to become a vegan who avoids all animal products such as meat, fish, and dairy products, it is important to promote a plant-based lifestyle that reduces animal products and actively incorporates plant-based foods, thereby leading to a healthy and environmentally sound diet.”

Lunch course meal by Plant Based Food

Chef Sogabe : “Today’s dish was created with the help of Chef Sugiura and his wisdom on how vegan cuisine should be served at ‘The Capitol Hotel Tokyu’. Chef Sugiura was in charge of what would be a fish dish in a normal French course, and I was in charge of what would be a meat dish. To be honest, it was very difficult to create a main dish that would satisfy everyone in the flow of a full course.”

[amuse] Chef Sogabe: (back left) porridge of fermented germinated brown rice and vegetable broth, (back right) American cherry and cherry tomato salad / Chef Sugiura: (front left) carrot and pumpkin tart, (front right) green lemon tart

Chef Sugiura: “The tart is made with whole wheat flour and no butter or eggs. I combine it with lemon to bring out the flavor of the green peas, which adds a refreshing note to the bean flavor as you chew.”
Chef Sogabe :”The American cherry and tomato dish brings out the flavors of the ingredients and the red hue. The hot porridge is made with fermented brown rice that has been fermented for five days.”

[Cold Appetizers] Chef Sugiura: Bouquet

Chef Sugiura: “The appearance is gastronomically designed in the form of a bouquet, but the contents contain elements of vegetarian cuisine. The tofu tofu tofu paste and five kinds of root vegetables are flavored with yuzu. The sauce is a Japanese twist on tahini, a sauce often used in vegan cooking, with sesame paste, kelp dashi, and beet sugar.”

[Hot Appetizers] Chef Sogabe: Sauteed white asparagus and green apple espuma

Chef Sogabe : “White asparagus, which is in season now, is served with an egg-free mayonnaise sauce. We puree the bottom part of the white asparagus so as not to waste it, and combine it with green apple puree to make an espuma.”

[Main dish – 1] Chef Sugiura: Roasted onions with caramelized onions and truffle extract

Chef Sugiura: “Onions have a flavor that changes in many ways when heated. We also pay attention to the texture of each ingredient so that you can taste the flavor of the ingredient as you chew. The root vegetable tuile on top is made with only vegetable starch and is vegan, with no eggs or butter. It is also flourless.”

[Main dish – 2] Chef Sogabe: Baked celery root wrapped in bread dough with chimichurri sauce.

Chef Sogabe: “Root celery is an ingredient that I often use in my regular dishes. The root celery is layered with soybean meat, red core radish, and homemade chutney, then wrapped in bread and steamed. It is served with a generous dollop of bright green chumichurri sauce made from Italian parsley and cilantro.” The audience applauded the beautiful cross section of the bread as it was cut on the monitor in front of the restaurant.

[Dessert] Chef Tetsuya Yasuzatoto: (left) loquat compote with elderflower and hojicha jelly, (back right) Premier Cru Café / Micafate Rwanda Kigufi Farm, (front right) coconut cake

Chef Tetsuya Yasuzato :”We used loquat compote, which is in season, and powdered the peels from the cooking process to decorate the edge of the plate. The ice cream on the side is made with amazake instead of dairy products. ”
The coffee is from “Mi Cafate”, a company that identifies nearly 3,000 farms around the world and handles them directly as a fair and equitable trade. They use coffee beans grown on a plantation in Rwanda, which has survived a war and has been rebuilt after 40 years.

Editor’s Note

Plant-based food is attracting increasing attention, but despite its importance in relation to the SDGs and sustainability, there is still a lack of understanding of why it is necessary to promote plant-based food, including the background behind it, and the food itself is still generally considered bland and unsatisfying. Many people may have an image of plant-based food. However, after experiencing this event, I was surprised to learn the importance of implementing and promoting plant-based foods in our daily lives, as well as to be amazed by the satisfying taste of each course dish and the variety of flavors that make the most of the ingredients. The beautiful appearance of the artfully prepared dishes also greatly enhanced the overall satisfaction of the course. While there is a desire to do something sustainable right now, there is an image that it will inevitably be achieved by overworking and putting up with a lot. In order for each and every one of us to continue our efforts on a long-term basis without strain, we need to coexist with “taste,” “health,” and “beauty,” as in the case of this course meal.

The Capitol Hotel Tokyu plans to hold the second chapter of the Sustainable Table in August 2022 under the theme of “Food Loss”. The idea is to provide an opportunity to understand the fundamental reasons why food loss has become an issue in recent years, and to put this into practice. In order to understand some of the food loss issues, Chef Sogabe and Chef Sugiura will purchase fresh seafood and vegetables that have been left out due to oversupply or out-of-specification, even though they are of good quality, and will use these fresh ingredients to create a course meal, almost improvising. They will also plan a plan that includes overnight accommodations. At the same time, an overnight stay plan is also being planned, available at a special event-only price.
Sustainable communication is possible only at a hotel. We hope to see more initiatives from The Capitol Hotel Tokyu in the future.

[Reference Site] The Capitol Hotel Tokyu
[Reference Site]【The Capitol Hotel Tokyu】”Sustainable Table”: Exploring the future of the earth through food, the quest for sustainable gastronomy – Chapter 1: Plant Based Food
[Reference Site] The Capitol Hotel Tokyu】 【The Capitol Hotel Tokyu】 “Sustainable Table” Pioneering the Future of the Earth through Food: The Quest for Sustainable Gastronomy ~Chapter 2: Food Loss ~
[Reference Site] Dentsu conducted the 5th “Sei-katsu-sha Survey on the SDGs”.

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