The other night Mr. V and I were tuning into Chef’s Table on Netflix, a show that I haven’t watched too much since fully transitioning to vegan. It is a beautifully cinematic view of world-renowned chefs from all over the globe. There are chefs with rags to riches stories of changing motherland cuisines to the scorn of their elders and there are quirky innovators of cuisine who make balloons and visual art with their food. Well, season 3 was added quite a while ago and I haven’t tuned in until this week and boy am I glad I did!
The first episode of the newest season is about a South Korean Monk Nun who makes vegan, organically-grown temple food that has hit the world food scene without her actually ever taking cooking classes, working in a restaurant, recording a cooking show, or writing a cookbook.
The intro to her episode ends with two lines: “I am not a chef. I am a monk.”
Netflix has masterfully given us a look into the temple at Jeong Kwan’s garden, kitchen, and lifestyle. The simplicity of Zen Buddhist temple life is so breathtaking. She calls the garden her playground, the sounds of nature an orchestra, and food a place to share and communicate your emotions.
Every line out of Jeong Kwan’s mouth is so inspiring and spoken with such wisdom. She is at such peace. This is so appealing to me as a busy L.A. mommy. I am in love with the idea of a simpler life sometimes. Not having to deal with 45 minutes of traffic to travel less than 15 miles. I crave more nature around me than the park for one hour, every other day with my son. I’m tired of the clutter and the noise! I’m not even in the big city! I’m a San Fernando Valley girl!
The first dish you see her prepare is pickled lotus root three ways and the lotus is my vegan spirit-flower! Kinda like spirit animal but flower, symbolizing transformation from muddy waters toward the sunlight.
She has lit a fire in me about vegan cooking, organic farming, compassion for all, respect and mindfulness, and simplicity. It was truly an enlightening experience to peer into Jeong Kwan’s life. I really can’t put it much better than Netflix or the New York Times.
(All photos from Jeong Kwan, the Philosopher Chef by Jeff Gordinier in the NY Times)
So please, watch it, read about her, and comment back how she made you feel!
The Handy Vegan,