“No one has ever written about the preparation and serving of meals as an expression of the Buddhadharma, nor have any teachers taught concerning these matters…. why must it be so?” asked the Zen Master Dōgen Zenji (1200-1253) in the first section of one of his most important text, the Eihei Shingi.
Titled the Tenzo Kyōkun, the first chapter of this text is usually translated as Instructions [or teachings] for the Cook. As well as being a practical guide to managing a busy kitchen and serving the community, dig a little deeper and it is a profound teaching on how to develop a skilful and wholesome attitude to everyone and everything we encounter in our life. This opening chapter, the Tenzo Kyōkun, has been called ‘the most valuable religious text of all time’*.
About The Blog
My very well thumbed copy of the Tenzo Kyōkun has been my guide in the kitchen (and out) for the last 10 years – I know the text well, yet on every reading it offers me something new to challenge and inspire me. On this blog I will be posting about my adventures in the kitchens where I work, the spiritual teachings that I receive, and the insights and stumbles that I experience along the way – trying as much as possible to take Dogen’s instructions to heart.
The food I love to cook is vegetarian, seasonal, local and ethical, as well as colourful, smile-inducing and nourishing. I am inspired constantly by the creativity and ingenuity of the plant-based cooks and chefs around the world who generously share their creations in cook books, magazines, social media and blogs.
My name is Jenny. In 2005 I came to NZ from London UK, to participate in a 10-day silent meditation retreat at the Te Moata Retreat Centre – it changed my life! Turning my back on a career in advertising, I became a professional cook and a student of the dharma simultaneously, and soon afterwards moved permanently (so to speak) to NZ. I’ve cooked for numerous Retreat Centres around the world, including Jamyang (London, UK), The Abbey (Oxfordshire, UK), Mahamudra (NZ), Chenrezig (Australia), Mana Retreat Centre (NZ), Chandrakirti (NZ), Wangapeka Retreat Centre (NZ), plus the wonderful Riverside Cafe & Community (NZ) where I spent 3 happy years as the Head Chef. I am currently the Head Chef at Aro Hā Retreat & Wellness Centre, in the foothills of the southern alps in the South Island of New Zealand, near Queenstown.
*Kōshō Uchiyama Rōshi, ‘How to Cook Your Life’, 1983