Artwork / REALtimeFOOD (world’s slowest restaurant)

A temporary restaurant is the opening scene for a multiple-month community based arts and ecology project where we bring to life an empty plot of urban land and invite the community to cultivate food, relationships, and creativity.

Images from the REALtimeFOOD opening, garden building, and dinner event during the project in Osaka, Japan
Images from the REALtimeFOOD opening, garden building, and dinner event during the project in Osaka, Japan

Project Overview

The project begins by opening a restaurant with no food. No tableware. No cooking. Upon placing their order, we inform each guest that they will have to ten weeks for their dinner to be ready, because the food at this restaurant is “grown to order.”

This temporary restaurant is the opening scene for a community based arts and ecology project where we spend several months to bring to life an empty plot of urban land, building a natural garden, and inviting the community inside to cultivate food, compassion, relationships, and creativity.

Finally, when the food is grown, we invite the customers back to the restaurant for their dinner, prepared by Japanese macrobiotic chef, Kaori Tsuji. The dinner is enhanced by a time-lapse video installation of the food growing, and an exhibition of the artistic outputs made by the community during our ten weeks of garden art workshops.

The garden design and workshop series is based on years of academic study in arts and ecology in the UK and Japan, as well as multiple years working with and learning directly from the world’s leading sustainable “natural” farmers.

The goal of REALtimeFOOD is not only about ecological 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 our fellow human beings.

The relationships cultivated by individuals here travel into their lives outside the garden, permeating their relationships with other people and with the living world around them.

Press and Reviews

Small Talk with Patrick Lydon and Suhee Kang
Bar and Dining Magazine (Korean)

Nature Farming and Art
Shikoku News (Japanese / English)

A Restaurant and Garden Serving Up Connections to Urban Nature
The Nature of Cities

Exploring Food, Earth, and Happiness
Short film about the project by Katya Kozary and Amelia Robterson

世上最慢的餐廳 (World’s Slowest Restaurant / Review)
飲食男女 (Chinese)

Participants cite the project as being not only entertaining, but amazingly eye-opening, bringing our relationships with the environment to new levels and expanding our view of the world immensely.

Project Team and Partners

This project was first produced by Patrick Lydon and Suhee Kang in Osaka, Japan (2015), supported in part by a grant from the Chishima Foundation for Creative Osaka. The pilot project team included Ikumasa Hayashi (curator), Kaori Tsuji (chef and coordinator), Yasutaka Kaneda (community coordinator), Emi Ogata (sponsorship coordinator). Additional support for the initial project was provided by Minna Nouen Project / Co.To.Hana, Isao Suizu Project Lab at Aichi University of Art, Robert Callender Residency for Young Artists, AIR Osaka, Lateral Lab

A second version of the project was produced in Megijima, Japan (2016) by the Final Straw Japan team, directed by Patrick and Suhee, with our superstar producer and project manager in Japan, Kaori Tsuji who handled logistical support, as well as being our head chef and natural garden manager.