It is a meeting of Chefs and above all, the discovery of a dessert, that leads Pietro Leemann to become a cook. He is captivated by the vanilla bavaroise created by the great Ticino Chef Angelo Conti Rossini. He, therefore, decides to follow the path of Culinary Art and works with several great Italian Chefs.
His interest in vegetarian cuisine came in the early 1980s and it is a trip to the Orient that leads him to become a vegetarian.
Back in Italy, he decides with a group of friends to open his own vegetarian and gastronomic restaurant in Milan. It is to be called JOIA.
JOIA, plant-based haute cuisine
The first European vegetarian restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star in 1996, JOIA is considered the most important restaurant in Europe and in the world in the fields of green, ethical and sustainable cuisine.
Pietro Leemann also received the Pellegrino Artusi award in 2000 for the quality and originality of his cuisine and the City of Fabriano award in 2010. In 2015, he was Chef Ambassador of ExpoMilano. In 2018, he received the award from an Italian foundation (Fondazione del Centenario della Banca della Svizzera Italiana) in recognition of his work.
After 30 years of existence and numerous awards, the JOIA restaurant is a symbol of this evolution in cuisine and of the paradigm shift.
The Vegetarian Chance
Pietro Leemann is also the initiator of the “The Vegetarian Chance” competition, the first international event for vegetarian culture and cuisine, which rewards young talents. In recent years, non-vegetarian cooks have won the competition with original creations, thus demonstrating the potential of Chefs in this field, whatever their culinary culture.
Teaching plant-based cuisine
Based on his experience, the Chef wishes to bring his knowledge and teach plant-based cooking to catering professionals. With JOIA ACADEMY, he has created a vegetarian cooking school that is unique in the world. This place of sharing and learning allows a better understanding of plant-based cuisine in its entirety.
Among his many activities, Pietro Leeman also offers advice and support for professionals.
His latest book, “The Code of Vegetarian Cooking” – available in its Italian version for the moment – is a strong reference, rich in techniques and recipes for professionals wishing to learn about plant-based cooking. It explains, among other things, how a vegetarian cooking brigade is set up, how to prepare plant-based versions of the world’s recipes, and suggests some JOIA recipes. A cookbook for cooks, which helps them develop their knowledge and opens up the field of possibilities.
Chef Pietro Leemann was a guest of the Institut de la Gastronomie Végétale .
Watch an excerpt from the meeting