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Buddhist monasteries have, in principle, six stewards. All are disciples of Buddha and all carry out the work of Buddha. Among them is the officer known as the cook, who is in charge of preparing meals for the assembly of monks. The Rules of Purity for Chan Monasteries (Chanyuan qinggui) says, "In order to offer nourishment to the monks of the community, there is a cook." From ancient times, the position has been assigned to senior monks who have the way-seeking mind -- eminent persons who have aroused the thought of awakening.
In general, the job of cook is an all-consuming pursuit of the way. If one lacks the way-seeking mind, it will be nothing but a vain struggle and hardship, without benefit in the end. The Rules of Purity for Chan Monasteries says, "One should maintain a way-seeking mind, make adjustments in accord with the occasion, and see to it that the great assemby receives what is necessary and is at ease." In days of yore, [emminent] monks such as Guishan and Dongshan performed this job, and various other great ancestral teachers did too at some point in their careers. Thus, it is surely not the same as the work of worldy cooks, imperial cooks, and the like.
From: Tenzo Kyokun - Insturctions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk