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Thread: Cook

  1. #1

    Cook

    Not the club book, I know... just didn't know where else to put this one. I'm a cook by trade, and cook for the patients and staff at a local in-patient rehabilitation center. Most of our patients have either had awful accidents or massive strokes. I have to cook a variety of foods aimed at meeting a variety of medically ordered diets, and still am required to provide not only nutritious but delicious foods. We may be the only "hospital food" in the area that offers things like seafood newburgh, tomato bisque, and shrimp scampi... all from scratch.
    Anyway, I have read, "Tenzo Kyokun" several times now, and recently finished Bernie Glassman's treatise on it, "Instructions to the Cook," which clarifies (crystaize) that the "Tenzo Kyokun" , while offering perfect instruction to the temple cook, (Tenzo,) has much, much more to do with real life, daily life, LIFE outside one's own noggin. I'm going to read it again. and again and again and again.

  2. #2

    Re: Cook

    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    Not the club book, I know... just didn't know where else to put this one. I'm a cook by trade, and cook for the patients and staff at a local in-patient rehabilitation center. Most of our patients have either had awful accidents or massive strokes. I have to cook a variety of foods aimed at meeting a variety of medically ordered diets, and still am required to provide not only nutritious but delicious foods. We may be the only "hospital food" in the area that offers things like seafood newburgh, tomato bisque, and shrimp scampi... all from scratch.
    Anyway, I have read, "Tenzo Kyokun" several times now, and recently finished Bernie Glassman's treatise on it, "Instructions to the Cook," which clarifies (crystaize) that the "Tenzo Kyokun" , while offering perfect instruction to the temple cook, (Tenzo,) has much, much more to do with real life, daily life, LIFE outside one's own noggin. I'm going to read it again. and again and again and again.
    I also find it to be my "favorite" Dogen book (about having no favorites, cooking with the ingredients handed us). We recently went through each page of this cook book for life (the Uchiyama translation). Please have a look ...

    viewtopic.php?f=19&t=3084

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Cook

    Hi Karl,
    I also work in the kitchen of a rehabilitation hospital in Saint Paul. I do all the cold prep (salads, jello, sandwiches, desserts, etc). Another responsibility is to deliver trays to patients. Like you i see, on a daily basis, all those who have had happen to them some of the worst illnesses or injuries that can happen in life! I work hard to get to know all the patients and their families by name. Often visiting them on my breaks. I always tell people that i have the best job in the hospital. Patients are always happy to see me because I'm the only one who brings the good stuff and am never there to poke them, prod them, twist them, etc like everyone else they see. I bring one of the few things that breaks up the monotony of the day. Meal time! All of which is also made possible by our group of wonderful cooks!! It sounds like you have a passion for what you do. Keep up the great work, because trust me your patients appreciate it!
    To relate things to our practice here at Treeleaf our line of work follows "right livelihood" of the Eightfold Path since everything we do benefits those who are in need the most.

    Gassho,
    John

  4. #4

    Re: Cook

    Hey, JR, just saw this. Don't know how I didn't see it before!
    you guys who do cold prep... you're my heroes! you have no idea what a losd it taked off the chef and prep-cook to know you're there! Think about it... my facility does egg, chicken, and tuna salads ON TOP OF chef's salads, fruit salads, sandwiches, etc...
    And the thing is, those people out there, I mean... they expect to eat every DAY! A couple TIMES!!
    Dude... you are THE MAN to me! I visualize a thousand Gasshos!

  5. #5

    Re: Cook

    I bring one of the few things that breaks up the monotony of the day.

    Yeah!! Jello!
    (Sorry... couldn't resist...)

  6. #6

    Re: Cook

    I've been a line cook my entire professional life, since 17yrs old. I kid that cooks have a certain "mindset", their own "language", and a culture all our own (but am also not kidding). I ran across Tenzo Kyokun a while back, and it was (and pretty much still is) the only writing by Dogen that I "got" immediately, so I read it over and over. I remember thinking "Oh cool! He wrote for cooks too!", and as I read it, it was very clear that "Oh wow! This is a lot more than just a book for cooks." Reading about ingredients; whether of good quality or bad quality, working with what you've got right now, that what you're doing isn't just for you (Don't get all high and mighty because you're the sous, because it means nothing if you're off in the office or on the floor goofing around), but for everyone. It's cooking basics, but also Practice. Respect your tools, respect your ingredients, be grateful for what you DO have and use it to the best of your ability, learn from the Masters...it's all there and written in the language that I understand.

    The kitchen is my life (I can't do anything else...not can't can't, but can't even imagine doing anything else) and the kitchen is Life. It's only there (as it stands right now) that I can see that apparent chaos is beautifully ordered perfection, that we're all dancing together (imagine a dinner rush where you're over-booked) to bring about a perfect whole. Even with the screaming waitstaff, even with disgruntled customers, even when we run out of this or that, or get into "the weeds", or have to jump to another station and drop what you were doing like it or not, or find yourself working a twelve hour shift...it's all exactly how Life is.

    If you're not flowing with it (dancing again), you're spinning in circles, getting nowhere. If you're not watching your knife and only watching your knife, you can lose a finger, BUT you're also participating in everything that's going on, all at the same time. For me, it's there that everything else "drops away" and all that there is is what's there. Everything is immediate. Maybe that's why I do my best sitting out on the bench outside during my breaks? (It also helped in that it stopped me from yelling at the rest of the staff! But I still have to work on Right Speech with all of the "colorful" joking and language that goes on ops: ). It also changed my whole attitude about the uniform and putting on my apron. Those are my robes, this is my service to others. They're not traditional by any means, but that's what it means to me.

    ETA: I don't mean any of this as a substitute for Zazen. That comes first, the rest comes after.

  7. #7

    Re: Cook

    I want to express my very deep gratitude and reverence to you chefs!
    My Mom has Alzheimerís and lives in a place that is lucky enough to have cooks like you (such places are very rare!). One of her few pleasures is the three meals she eats there. It is the only facility Iíve been to (and Iíve visted many) where the food tasted good! Itís one of the reasons I donít move her closer to me. Thanks for giving that gift to people like my Mom. You bring tears of gratitude to my eyes. Gassho, Grace.

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