About a month ago, we opened the “REALtimeFOOD” restaurant project here in Osaka. On that first day where the customers ordered, we didn’t serve them dinner but instead asked them to come back in five weeks … after we grew their food.
The “grown-to-order” dinner concept was well received.
During the weeks spent growing food for the dinner, we hosted a series of events in our small urban garden, with the aim of helping the community re-connect to the earth and to the nature in their city.
The goal here is not only about art making, or learning about plants and soil, but about giving people the opportunity to cultivate awareness and compassion for environment around them. From this compassion grows deeper and more meaningful relationships, both with the living things in a garden and with fellow human beings.
This depth allows us to make art that speaks truth, to build relationships that are true, and to go about actions in our daily lives in ways that speak to our relationship with the world in which we live.
The capstone event for what was a truly amazing six week project, was to finally serve the dinner that the customers had ordered weeks ago.
For that we had help from our friend and macrobiotic chef, Kaori Tsuji.
Kaori cooked up a vegetarian menu that wowed the customers in presentation, breadth, and flavor — a tomato jelly desert was my personal favorite. More than just the new and interesting menus, Kaori’s work was also so delicate, allowing each of the garden ingredients to sing their own song.
A true celebration of the local garden.
It was good to see so many familiar faces back to enjoy their dinner, and to hear us talk on a bit about the project.
The other stars of the opening night were the artworks which were created during our garden workshops! The fact that these workshops were attended by a mix of ages and of Japanese and International participants — one visitor came all the way from Thailand — produced a supremely eclectic mix of artworks… all of them using only materials from the garden!
We want to again give a big thank you to chef and co-coordinator Kaori Tsuji, translator and coordinator Ikumasa Hayashi, Professor Suizu Isao from Aichi University of the Arts, Yasutaka Kaneda from Co.to.hana, and Emi Ogata and the Chishima Foundation for their kind financial support, to our interns Katya Kozary and Amelia Robertson, and to all of the helpers, volunteers, and participants who joined us for this grand experiment in dining and thinking about our relationship with nature in the city.
Being in a country where we are foreigners and undertaking a whole bunch of things we’ve never undertaken, we learned a whole lot during this process. Given the unexpected level of success we’ve had here, both Suhee and I feel like this is the beginning of something big, and something that we wish to continue to deepen and develop further.
Be on the lookout then, for the next installment!
For now… some more images from the event…