Pietro Leemann was born in Locarno, Switzerland, in the summer of 1961.
From an early age he cultivated, in every sense, a love for the land and nature, playing and working with his parents in the family garden.
In 1976, struck by a vanilla Bavarian cream by the great Ticino chef Angelo Conti Rossini, he decided to embark on the path of culinary art. A long period of study began for him, at the court of masters such as Angelo himself, Gualtiero Marchesi and Frédy Girardet, from whom he acquired the fundamentals of great cooking.
At the beginning of the 80s he approaches vegetarian cuisine and comes into contact with the new ecological movements that lay the foundations for an environmentally friendly and health-friendly diet.
Passionate about philosophy and mysticism, he decides to leave for the East where he explores the main cultures, especially Zen Buddhism, Taoism and the world of the Vedas.
Thanks to an introspective journey, he discovered himself a vegetarian and, returning to Italy in 1989, with a group of friends, he decided to open his own gourmet vegetarian restaurant in Milan, to which he gave a very evocative name: “Joia“.
In 1996 it was the first European vegetarian restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star.
After 30 years, Joia is considered the most important reality in Europe and in the world in the field of green, ethical and sustainable cuisine.
Among the awards received in 2000 he was awarded the Pellegrino Artusi prize for the quality and originality of his cuisine and in 2010 the Città di Fabriano prize.
In 2015 he was Chef Ambassador of ExpoMilano.
In 2018 he received the Centenary Foundation Award of the Banca della Svizzera Italiana, in recognition of the great merits gained in more than thirty years of profession.
He has written about ten books on cookery, food culture, natural philosophy and recipes.
Together with his journalist friend Gabriele Eschenazi he founded “The Vegetarian Chance“, the first international festival of vegetarian culture and cuisine.
He is regularly called to speak at institutes, universities and on the occasion of events and exhibitions, spreading his culture and experience in Switzerland, Italy and throughout the world.