January 28, 2011

An Angry Zen Chef on How to Cook Your Life

Ed Brown—former student of Suzuki Roshi and author of the Tassajara Bread Book—has practiced both Buddhism and cooking for over 40 years. This does not mean, however, that he's always equanimous in the kitchen. In fact, in a profile a couple years back, Slashfood called Brown the "Angry Zen Chef." How did he earn this nickname? By being unafraid to share and talk about his emotions—which at times can include a little anger, especially when people get in his way in the kitchen.

How to Cook Your Life, a documentary featuring Brown by filmmaker Doris Dörrie, opens with the Zen teacher telling his students that he is a human being. And like all human beings, Brown can get irritable, fed-up, and frustrated. At one point in the film he becomes annoyed when his students don't know how much salt is required for a bread recipe being made. While this may seem a little excessive, Brown is clearly attempting to demonstrate an important point: our lives are to be discovered in the details. And, as Dogen suggests in his famous Instructions to the Cook, where are the details more apparent or important than when we're preparing our food?

Watch How to Cook Your Life:

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Film courtesy of Snag Learning

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DougVieques's picture

What an amazing film... about a remarkable man and the central topic of course is how to live fully engaged with a byproduct how to cook with a whole heart! I remember buying the Tasajara Bread Book when it first came out and doing my best to master those recipes - mostly I failed (due only to my incompetence). But the secret to practice is to sit once again and then get up and resume the practice. I encourage further dialogue about the film and what it means to you. How can we pursue whole foods and a whole life when the craziness around us is so all-pervasive?