HOW TO COOK YOUR LIFE (Doris Dörrie). 93 minutes. Opens Friday (November 23). Rating: NNN
Chefs, if I may generalize, are not very Zen. Typically, they're exacting, short-tempered stress cases who live on a combination of adrenaline and caffeine. So a good part of the interest in How To Cook Your Life is meeting a happy, soft-spoken chef who meditates.
Edward Espe Brown is a Buddhist priest and head cook at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Centre in California. The doc shows him leading students through cooking classes while explaining that being in the moment results in better food and the path to wisdom.
You may need to have a bit of Zen patience to sit through the film. Although it's only 93 minutes long, I found my mind wandering. I could do with fewer shots of Brown meditating and more examples of how to create sustainable, cruelty- and waste-free meals, not to mention more of Brown's excellent take on North Americans' unhealthy attitude to food.
But Doris Dörrie does an excellent job of capturing Brown in his few impatient moments, proving that he is, as he says, a flawed human, and she's mastered the art of making food look good on camera, something that's even more difficult than cooking it.