How to Cook Your Life
HOW TO COOK YOUR LIFE
A documentary film by Doris Dörrie
94 minutes, 2007. NTSC DVD
How to Cook Your Life is a cheerful documentary about the art of cooking and the art of cooking your life without burning it, putting too much salt or overcooking it. Food and being determine life, and life determines food. Doris Dörrie and the cooking Zen priest, Edward Brown demonstrate that eating is more than just the intake of food. Cooking is a festival of senses, and an act of love and generosity.
During the summer of 2006, Doris Dörrie and her crew filmed Edward Brown at his cooking classes at the Buddhist center, Scheibbs in Austria and the two Californian Buddhist centers, the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and the Zen Center in San Francisco, where he teaches people of all generations.
His recipes are simple but rich in taste and aroma. How to Cook Your Life refrains from using any commentary. The camera is like a participant of the cooking courses. It captures the flour-covered wooden table, the dough, the radishes, oranges and carrots. One learns to understand the anatomy and liveliness of yeast: cakes, pizza, bread are being baked.
The camera joins the lectures of Edward Brown, which are based on the ancient tradition of Zen master Dogen, the founder of the Soto Zen School. Already in 1283 Dogen wrote a cookbook in which he encourages his readers to discover Buddha in simple kitchen chores, like washing rice or kneading dough.
Practical and entertaining, Edward Brown knows how to translate those philosophical thoughts into today’s zeitgeist.
What is the meaning of cooking and eating for the community and the individual? Is cooking a political act? How does cooking reflect our attitude toward life and the world?
Edward Brown is a happy priest, but for sure no saint. To him, the whole world can be found in a watermelon. In his pots, rivers and mountains are cooked. Fast food restaurants, organic farmers, starving homeless people and a woman who only eats what other people discard. Doris Dörrie‟s observations in San Francisco reveal a world of contradictions and diversity.
Eighty percent of all Americans don’t eat at home, neither do they cook. If you don’t know how to cook and you are poor, you have to live on cheap and bad food. No time for cooking and eating together is a loss of community and culture. To learn how to cook means to experience and preserve the richness of one’s culture and traditions.
How to Cook Your Life can change your view on cooking, eating and your own life. You will never again cut your vegetables the way you used to.
About Edward Espe Brown, Zen Priest
Edward Brown was ordained to Zen priesthood by Suzuki Roshi. He has been practicing Zen since 1965 and Yoga since 1980. Brown teaches at the San Francisco Zen centers Tassajara, Green Gulch and City Center and holds meditation and cooking classes in the USA, Germany, Austria, Spain and England.
He is valued throughout the world as an experienced teacher in Zazen, Chi Gong and Mindfulness Touch. Edward Brown is the author of numerous cookbooks among them the famous Tassajara cookbooks. The Tassajara Bread Book is based on Brown’s philosophy that good bread needs more than flour, water, milk and eggs. Care and attention are ingredients that are of the same importance.
The Tassajara Recipe Book is a recipe collection of 30 years of cooking at the Tassajara Zen Center. Over 200 recipes from starter to dessert reflect the special care and attention that Brown puts into preparing food. Together with well-known cook Deborah Madison he owns the legendary “Greens” restaurant in San Francisco.
“When I was first starting to cook, I asked Suzuki Roshi if he had any advice for me. ‘When you wash the rice, wash the rice, when you cut the carrots, cut the carrots, when you stir the soup, stir the soup.’”
"Tasteful in more ways than one, mischievous and charming."
Eddie Cockrell, Variety
"A jaunty mix of chanting, baking and spiritual uplift."
Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times [Read full article here]
"Unexpectedly charming and enlightening."
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"Pleasant and thoughtful."
Geoff Berkshire, Chicago Tribune
Walter V. Addirgo, San Francisco Chronicle
Writer/Director: Doris Dörrie
Producers: Franz X. Gernstl, Fidelis Mager
Editor: Suzi Giebler
Featuring: Edward Espe Brown