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How to Cook Your Life (2007)

Edward Espe Brown , Doris Dörrie , Doris Dörrie  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Edward Espe Brown, Doris Dörrie
  • Directors: Doris Dörrie
  • Writers: Doris Dörrie
  • Producers: Fidelis Mager, Franz X. Gernstl, Richard Sterling
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: May 6, 2008
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0014BQR74
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,424 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "How to Cook Your Life" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Zen Master and Renowned Chef Edward Espe Brown is captured on film as he guides students through the mastery of cooking and the importance of how we treat our food. Heartwarming, insightful and often surprising.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE BEST February 5, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting it right: perfection in intention June 29, 2008
This delightful and insightful film from German director Doris Dorrie (Enlightenment Guaranteed) demonstrates, in the tradition of great Buddhist teachings, the marvel of life that is and always has been right under your nose, right at your fingertips, right there waiting for you to really see it, really feel it, really smell and taste it.

Ostensibly a profile of American Soto Zen priest Edward Espe Brown , for 30 years the head cook of the California Tassajara Zen Center, the film is in the end more about how we relate to food, and ultimately how we relate to life. In Japan's Soto Zen tradition, cooking is more than just feeding the monks. It's about close attention to detail. It's about respect for the produce of the Earth. In the process, its as much about preparing yourself as it is a meal.

13th century Japanese Zen master Dogen elevated the position of cook within his monasteries to near the importance of the abbot. He saw in the handling and preparation of food a means for cooks to practice mindfulness, and through careful attention to detail maintain the health and morale of the monastic community. He wrote a treatise on the subject, Instructions to the Tenzo, that is still studied in Soto Zen monasteries. In fact you'll see in the film some of the cooks at Tassajara studying this very text.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great DVD! Ed Brown gives us a new way to view our life November 5, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Looking at your life and the experiences you have everyday in terms of the kitchen really helped me to switch some of my views and habits. I used to look at cooking, working and doing the many things I do everyday as one endless, thankless task.

Now I am thinking more about what I do as an experience. How to Cook Your Life has brought a perspective to into my life. I just ordered The Complete Tassajara Cookbook: Recipes, Techniques, and Reflections from the Famed Zen Kitchen and the stories and insight are wonderful. Oh, and it has some great recipes too!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia for me March 24, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This Buddhist teacher is fun, he's human, and needs to have patience. (Like me.) It reminds me of my days chanting, and going to temple. It was the happiest time of my life. The philosophy is simple: pay attention to what you're doing, and be in the moment. He authored a book on making bread, which I bought in the 60's. If you want a video that makes you appreciate the simplicity of life, this is it. (He teaches cooking skills with a chef's knife, but I'm not there yet!)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Food is holy September 4, 2009
If you have a little patience while watching this film, you will be greatly rewarded. Edward Espe Brown is not only a wonderful cooking teacher, but a humorous and humble spiritual guide. The side stories about food that illuminate this film's philosophy are enlightening and thought provoking without having to resort to disturbing film footage about our corporate food industry's ugly side. I don't purchase many DVDs, but I had to have this for my small collection. I love to cook, and having this film is like having a spiritual guide at my side to help me be patient and have reverence while I prepare food for my loved ones and myself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful June 20, 2009
this is a moving and charming story. i have been baking his bread for 30 years and was delighted to hear and see him. my friends found it unexpected and warm-hearted.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zen of Cooking and Cooking with Zen April 24, 2009
This movie, featuring Zen priest who is also a master cook is not a "how to cook a dish" type of movie. Actually it never shows how to prepare a single dish from the begining to the end, but how to work with our own minds.Zen teachings and commentaries are given by Edward Espe Brown (the priest), but also we have archival footage of the teachings of the Zen Master Suzuki,and also the interviews with the members of the Buddhist community.

Zen is a practice of mindfulness, and of course, there is a lot of it in this movie. But also are other aspects which are so very Zen: honesty, humor, poetry, humanity, compassion toward humans and animals, and the attitude toward the problems in our lives. Brown is a priest and a teacher, but he is has not a stature of a Zen master, yet anyone can see how much it can be learned from a practitioner who spend fourty years practicing Zen. And for those of you who like Dalai Lama and his sense of humor,there is also something charming about the brand of humor represented by Brown, and his master teacher, Suzuki.

Cooking was very important practice in Zen monasteries, but also any work done, and this movies shows how much meaning any work can have. Any work which serves the others can be elevated to a meaningful activity, and yes, be holly to some extend, if done with the right spirit.

And I just want to add a comment fro those who are not familiar with Mahayana Buddhism (to which Zen belongs). You can see Brown talking about old water kettles, and there is a lot of down to Earth poetry in it.But he also sheds a tear, so, why is he so emotional, someone may ask. As a long time practitioner, Ed Brown must have to take Boddhistava vows, which means such a practitioner has the attitude the others first.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Puts my cooking to shame.
I showed this DVD at one of our Spiritual cinema evenings. Most people were quite impressed. Here is a dedicated men who follows his heart and ends up becoming a "famous"... Read more
Published 5 months ago by L. Auperle
4.0 out of 5 stars Very peaceful
This is a great video about Zen Buddhism and the art of cooking. It is very peaceful to watch and Edward Espe Brown is a cool person.
Published 6 months ago by Ron Price
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good points
I was not as impressed with this DVD as I thought I'd be. It made many good points about food, but took a negative look at other natural eating philosophies such as Macrobiotics. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Middle aged reader
1.0 out of 5 stars Saw This Documentary And...
I was very disappointed. I found the subject of this film, Edward Espe Brown, to be mean and flamboyantly arrogant. Read more
Published 13 months ago by CC
4.0 out of 5 stars Deep
I felt like I was right there with his students handling the bread and baking it. It was a calming documentary.
Published 18 months ago by sandra pinkerton
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
I loves this movie. It is sort of hockey, I know. It is more like a fan video of someone you idolize, I know. Read more
Published 18 months ago by momoftwo
4.0 out of 5 stars Anecdotal evidence for a more fulfilling life
This documentary shows people trying to live life more connected, more substantially, more fulfilling, through a series of vignettes revolving around a Buddhist monastery... Read more
Published 18 months ago by gabek42
5.0 out of 5 stars soothing and light with deep content
I can watch this video many times and never tire of it, which is why I purchased it after watching a copy. Read more
Published 23 months ago by P. Brescia
5.0 out of 5 stars great insight into zen, life and cooking
This is a gentle and well made doco providing simple insight into the life of a cook and a zen practitioner. Read more
Published on May 14, 2012 by Mike
4.0 out of 5 stars cherry blossoms
this is not a fast pace movie, but the story keeps your attention when it goes to Japan; very poetic.
Published on May 8, 2011 by elizabeth joseph
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