In Buddha’s Kitchen

By Kimberley Snow


A Book Review by Franz Scheurer


Kimberley Snow follows her inner voice and enters a Tibetan Buddhist meditation centre. Always referred to as ‘God’ in her commercial kitchen she finds out very quickly that she is no longer divine in the centre’s kitchen, where she stumbles upon compassion that slowly, but surely, banishes the rage within, that has kept her going all her life. This is a journey of a lost soul who finds enlightenment through the practice of living in the now, unravelling the mystery of ‘writing on water’ and the meaning of surfing the moment. She successfully works with the five poisons of anger, attachment, ignorance, jealousy and pride in order to transform them to the five perfections: generosity, patience, diligence, moral discipline and concentration. When she successfully applies emptiness to these, they become the sixth: wisdom. Kimberley reckons that the commercial kitchen is the perfect boot camp for developing the perfections. The heat and the speed there demands that one lives in real time, always on the edge of control and without the usual defences. In short, it’s hard to pretend patience when your hair is on fire.

Her writing is engaging, funny and enlightening. I particularly like the following passage, and I quote from the book:



“CHEF, very dark, perhaps brown or black, is a huge woman, more of a force of nature than a human being. Odd things hang from her here and there, perhaps a string of sausages or a rope of garlic. One wouldn’t be surprised to see a live snake. She alone can see DRAGON.


CHEF: Better get to work on the soup. (passing by spices, she points finger accusingly) Don’t you talk back to me. Had enough of you I have… You juniper berries. Perk up there, got things for you to do tonight. Big things.

           Now you, you pretty mushrooms. What you in the mood for today? Marjoram? Oregano? Little beauties, you are. So white and round. (she turns on a cassette recorder {African drums or perhaps Ravel’s Bolero}, she hits pot with a wooden spoon, breaks into a dance, bouncing heavily)


CHEF: Dum de de dum de de. (dances) Dum de de dum de de.

          Soup, soup, gonna make some soup. (calls) Dragon.

Hey Dragon. Dragoooooooonnnnnnn. (crosses to broom closet, throws open door. DRAGON, sitting on stool writing, pays no attention to her) Dragon. (waits respectfully)



DRAGON: (still writing) Um?

CHEF: Dragon. Needs your help. You busy?

DRAGON: (coming out of the closet) Just working on a poem. What’s up?

CHEF: Needs to get the Chef’s Special.

DRAGON: Ah, the Chef’s Special. (sniffing: CHEF too begins to sniff) What sort of day is it?

CHEF: (sniffing) Well, (sniffs) sort of … (sniff, sniff) kinda… (sniffs) Know what I mean?

DRAGON: (sniffs) A spicy sort of day.

CHEF: Yeah, ginger spicy.

DRAGON: Many surprises.

CHEF: Oh boy. Loves surprises.

DRAGON: (as if he’s looking into the day) Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

CHEF: What’s you mean “Hmmmmmmmm?”

DRAGON: Just Hmm. Great spectrum of surprises.

CHEF: Spec Trum

DRAGON: Reminds me a little of the day I came through. (sniffs deeply) Yes, indeed. (beat) the day I came through and couldn’t get back.

CHEF: (who loves to hear DRAGON talk) That the day of the big earthquake?

DRAGON: The very same. I’d only come in for dinner that night.

CHEF: How’s the food?

DRAGON: Oh! Even then it was worth traveling for.

CHEF: (very childlike; she’s heard this story many times) Yeah? What’d you have?

DRAGON: We started with Winter Melon Soup.

CHEF: We? (her favourite part is about the other dragon, the one who got lost)

DRAGON: (sadly) My dragon and I

CHEF: Yeah?

DRAGON: Yeah. (turns stoical) Then BANG. Everything changed.

CHEF: BANG! Loves to happen.

DRAGON: Winter Melon Soup all over everywhere, plaster falling, then the fire… smoke and confusion.

CHEF: Yeah? And?

DRAGON: When it was all over, I was alone and the coordinate point sealed off – no more travelling between dimensions. Can’t get back at all. (shakes head) Now there’s a broom closed where the entry point used to be. Don’t know if she made it or not.

CHEF: Your dragon?

DRAGON: For years I thought maybe she just went into shock, forgot who she was. Dragons do that. They enter the dream… (lost in reverie)

CHEF: Now, ‘bout that soup.

DRAGON: Ah, yes, the soup. (begins to intone) Eeeeeeeessssssccccooofffffiiiiaaayyyy.  Eeeeeessscccooofffiiiaaayyy. Escoffier. Escoffier.

CHEF: That’s today’s soup?

DRAGON: Wait. (intones again) O Great Chefs of France, speak through me. (bangs pots and pans) O mighty cauldrons, bubble for me. (makes stylized gestures) Deep pleasures, dark pleasures…. Ah. Take fruits, heavy on the vine, swollen by the sun into ruby globes.

CHEF: (writing down recipe on card) Them’s ripe tomatoes. Calls ‘em fruits. Don’t never ‘frigerate.

DRAGON: Minced root of the golden flower, plucked young from Dragon’s garden. To clear the mind, to shock the senses beyond the limits of the body, into the clarity of the void.

CHEF:  Guess that’s ginger root.

DRAGON: That amber liquid, that transformed aura of the plump fowl, prepared by the light of the East.

CHEF: (flips through file box, takes out card, and reads aloud) Chinese chicken stock. Okay. Got that.

DRAGON: The spring offering of green, grown long and thin, reaching out of the soil, gently biting to the tongue as a lover with tiny pointy teeth…

CHEF: Scallions!

DRAGON: (who had not quite finished; coughs politely) Hem

CHEF: Sorry.

DRAGON: As a lover with tiny, pointy teeth might naughtily bite. Brought to their fullest potential in the high, hot world to the south, amid explosive darkness.

CHEF: (impressed) Done up with salsa.


(enter WAITER, brushing DRAGON aside)


WAITER: Chef. Chef.

DRAGON: Oh bother. Humans! And I was just getting started. Hmph. (DRAGON goes back into the closet)

WAITER: Got to get the Chef’s Special for the menu. What’s all this?

CHEF: That’s gonna  be soup.

WAITER: (pencil poised) Name?

CHEF: Name?

WAITER: Name of the soup.

CHEF:  Name of the soup. Uh. Didn’t give me no name.


CHEF: Um, nothing. The name… uh… it’s… uh.

WAITER: Jeez. Not again. (sigh) Maybe I can help. Salsa? Ginger root? Chinese chicken stock? How about UNESCO Surprise?

(CHEF nods enthusiastically until she realizes that WAITER, a French snob at heart, is being sarcastic.

DRAGON appears briefly from closet)

DRAGON: Crab meat might be even better.

CHEF: (calling) DRAGON… (sees look on WAITER’S face and finishes) Soup.


CHEF: Dragon Soup. That’s the name of the soup. The Chef’s Special for tonight.

WAITER: Is that so?

CHEF: Yes, write it down just like that: Dragon Soup.

WAITER: Tell me Cheffie, is it made from dragon meat? The customers will ask, you know.

CHEF: No, course it ain’t. Dragon give me the recipe.

WAITER: Of course he did, darling. Of course he did.

At the end of the play, it turns out that the chef is the dragon’s lost mate. Once he recognises her own true nature as well as his own, they are able to return to their original dimension.”


In Buddha’s Kitchen

Cooking, Being Cooked and Other Adventures in a Meditation Centre

Kimberley Snow

Published by Shambhala Publications Inc.

ISBN 1-59030-047-5

Have a look at Kimberley’s website: