Have you ever heard of the term “well-being?” Well-being is a concept that refers to physical, mental, and social health. The preamble of the Charter of the World Health Organization (provisional translation by the WHO Association of Japan) states, “Health is not the absence of disease or infirmity, but a state of being physically, mentally, and socially whole and complete. It is one of the fundamental human rights for all people to be endowed with the highest standard of health, without discrimination based on race, religion, political beliefs, or economic or social conditions.” This is an indispensable keyword in realizing a society in which “no one is left behind”.
Against this backdrop, The Capitol Hotel Tokyu held an event on February 18, 2023, under the theme of “well-being. The event, titled “The Sustainable Table: Exploring the Future of the Earth through Food,-final chapter well-being-” was held in the form of a series of events to promote and disseminate sustainable food-related initiatives. This event is the fourth and final chapter of the series.
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 of The Capitol Hotel Tokyu. The day’s well-being course meal was served with presentations by both chefs on ingredients and cooking methods.
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”. For two consecutive years, he was the Japanese representative chef for the Emmy Awards ceremony, the Tiffany private event in NYC, and the reception event held at the official residence of the Ambassador of Japan to the United Nations for former Prime Minister Abe and other presidents and state guests. With his international culinary experience gained in Japan and abroad, he has become a leading authority on vegan and plant-based cooking in Japan. Currently, he is promoting a sustainable society through social contribution activities from various perspectives, which he calls “Social Food Gastronomy,” and serves as a project advisor for the Japan Sustainable Restaurant Association.
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, 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.
Eat, learn, and be healthy in mind and body.
Chapter 1, “Plant-Based Food,” Chapter 2, “Food Losses,” and Chapter 3, “Sustainable Seafood & Better Meats,” are followed by the final chapter, which is the culmination of the book.
Chef Sugiura: “The grand topic of ‘well-being’ is to nurture a rich life not only for the human body, but also for the mental and social aspects of life. In this year’s event, I would like to take a relative approach to the fundamental healthy part of the theme, among those I have devised with General Chef Sogabe. We want you to eat, learn, and leave with a healthy body and mind.”
Considering Food Sustainability
Mr. Takeshi Shimotaya, President of the Japan Sustainable Restaurant Association, who is also the organizer of this event, gave a speech about the activities of the association and the importance of well-being.
Mr. Shimotaya: “By choosing ingredients without any awareness, we may be unknowingly contributing to environmental and social issues. Inexpensive, untraceable ingredients are often linked to forced labor, child labor, deforestation, etc. As a restaurant, it is very important to be aware of the background of the ingredients we are choosing. It’s not just about how good the food tastes, but also how it was produced, whether it is nutritionally and health conscious, whether it is energy efficient, and whether the working conditions of the people who work there are appropriate.”
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. The association’s rating is also used as an evaluation indicator for “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants,” known as the Academy Awards for food.
Mr. Shimotaya said, “‘Happiness’ is the English word for instantaneous happiness, while ‘well-being’ means sustainable happiness. Restaurants have a responsibility to provide stakeholders with food that not only tastes good but is also healthy, and to properly explain the producer’s thoughts and production process while taking care of limited resources. It is important that each and every one of us is happy, and on top of that, that the economy, society, and the environment are in a balanced state.”
Well-being-themed course meals
Chef de Cuisine Sogabe’s “Here’s to everyone’s happiness!” and the course finally got underway.
Chef Sugiura: “The concept of this amuse tart is ‘sea and mountain’. Recently, the importance of dietary fiber has been reevaluated, and ‘seaweed’, which contains soluble fiber that helps suppress the rise in blood sugar levels, is an all-around healthy food. The crystal-like lid on the tart is made of seaweed. The other tart is made with avocado and chicken breast. Chicken breast is low in carbohydrates and contains a good balance of protein and essential amino acids, making it an efficient source of amino acids.”
Executive Chef Sogabe said, “The warm consommé-based soup is made with medicinal ingredients such as wolfberries, lotus seeds, and licorice, and is topped with curry-flavored whipped cream. Another dish, the mozzarella ball, is filled with sprouted brown rice that is fermented for five days after cooking using a special rice cooker.”
The Memorial Appetizer is a dish conceived with the idea of “giving a bouquet of thanks to the producers”.
Executive Chef Sogabe: “The sautéed white asparagus, which is in season, is paired with apples to preserve the flavor of the white asparagus while mitigating its unique peculiarities.”
Chef Sugiura: “The appetizer, which features four types of root vegetables in the shape of a bouquet of flowers, is a composite of vegetarian cooking techniques. Inside is an arrangement of tofu paste.”
Next, Chef de Cuisine Sogabe served a cold appetizer featuring vegetables and soy meat grown with the sustainable fertilizer ” BONEARTH “. BONEARTH is a fertilizer made from discarded tableware by Nikko Corporation, a long-established ceramic manufacturer established in 1908. The company began research and development of BONEARTH after noticing that tricalcium phosphate, which is found in large amounts in Nikko fine bone china tableware, is an important component of fertilizer. After verifying the fertilizer’s efficacy and consulting with the prefectural government, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Consumption and Safety Technology Center, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the product was approved as a fertilizer on February 10, 2022. The current situation is that phosphorus, an essential nutrient for plant growth, is almost entirely imported from China and other foreign countries. Nikko believes that utilizing tableware that has had to be disposed of as industrial waste due to chips and cracks as phosphate fertilizer and recycling it as a resource in Japan will also lead to sustainable food production.
Executive Chef Sogabe: “This menu is inspired by an SDGs field, and uses leafy vegetables grown by a farmer in Tokyo who uses BONEARTH. The part that resembles the soil in the field is soybean meat. The vegetables grown in the fertilizer produced by the Nikko Fine Bone China dishware are returned to the Nikko dishware as a dish again, thus creating a circular economy.”
Executive Chef Sogabe said, “In consideration of local production for local consumption and sustainable seafood, this menu uses sea bass caught in Tokyo Bay. Pressing the sea bass in the sink cans used in Japanese cuisine makes it look beautiful and allows us to use the sea bass without wasting it.”
Chef Sugiura, who pursues “delicious and healthy meals,” is also involved in the development of diet therapy menus with Dr. Takuji Shirasawa, who researches anti-aging and dementia prevention.
Chef Sugiura said, “The chrysanthemum used in the sauce is very rich in ‘inulin’, which has a great effect on controlling blood sugar levels. It is also said to be effective in reducing inflammation in the hippocampus of the brain, which is a common cause of dementia, a social problem.”
Chef Sugiura said, “Lamb is low in calories and effective in burning fat. This time, we smoked lamb meat raised only on grass. The dry curry garniture is made with cumin and other spices. Cumin is effective in reducing oxidation. Even a small amount of the ingredient, spice, can have a moderately healthy effect.”
Chef Tetsuya Yasuzato: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” as the saying goes in England. We use out-of-spec apples that do not meet shipping standards. The letters on the tarte tatin plate are painted with dried apple peel powder. For the petits fours, leftover croissants from breakfast are baked in a pumping style.”
Well-being is also the theme of the two types of bread served with the course. The bamboo charcoal kneaded into the pitch-black bread contains potassium and minerals that are said to have detoxifying effects, such as improving the intestinal environment. On the other hand, the rye used in the bucket campagne is rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are often lacking in modern people.
At the end of the event, to-go bags were handed out, and attendees said, “I’m glad I got to take home all the delicious bread and petits fours I couldn’t finish.” The attendees said, “I’m glad to take home the delicious bread and petits fours I couldn’t finish.
At this event, we also proposed drink pairings to match each dish. The drinks were selected from a sustainable perspective, including certified organic wines, crusted lager made from food-loss bread, and purine- and gluten-free cider made only from Toyama apples and yeast.
Each of the menus served at the event was filled with the ingenuity, skill, and knowledge of both chefs, and the participants commented, “I had the impression that the food was not healthy enough, but all the dishes were carefully prepared with the original flavors of the ingredients, and were delicious and satisfying. I was able to experience the coexistence of deliciousness and sustainability.” “The spices and yuzu were well seasoned, and I enjoyed the variety of flavors in each dish.” “The crystal tarts, BONEARTH vegetable cold appetizers, and tarte tatin were not only delicious, but so beautiful that it was hard to put a knife to them, making me feel visually healthy.” The theme of the event, “well-being,” was realized in these comments.
In a survey on the SDGs released in February 2023, approximately 40% of consumers indicated that “they would like to purchase or use SDG-related products and services”. As consumer awareness of environmental and social issues has increased in recent years, it is likely that the number of consumers who sympathize with the activities of companies that are proactive in sustainability initiatives and wish to contribute to solving these issues themselves by purchasing products and services offered by these companies will further increase.
The Capitol Hotel Tokyu has been involved in a variety of initiatives, including the “Sustainable Table,” reduction of single-use plastics, introduction of to-go bags, establishment of universal rooms, and cooperation with local events. The company plans to further promote these initiatives in the future. The Capitol Hotel Tokyu has received five stars for two consecutive years in the “Forbes Travel Guide”, a travel guide that evaluates luxury hotels and restaurants around the world, and has earned international acclaim. The Capitol Hotel Tokyu has earned a five-star rating in the Forbes Travel Guide, a travel guide that evaluates luxury hotels and restaurants around the world, two years in a row.
[Reference site] The Capitol Hotel Tokyu
[Reference Site] [The Capitol Hotel Tokyu] The final chapter of “Sustainable Table,” a program to pioneer the future of the earth through food
[Reference Site] What is the Charter of the World Health Organization (WHO)?
[Reference Site] Nearly 30% of sei-katsu-sha are conscious of the need for a better society and environment when selecting products and services