Nye opskrifter

Er "filosofkokken" - en buddhistisk nonne i Sydkorea - den næste madkendis?

Er

Flyt over Redzepi, Bottura, Roca og Keller; 59-årige Jeong Kwan betagede New York Times med sit "tempelkøkken"

En buddhistisk nonne i Sydkorea tiltrækker kokken Eric Ripert fra Le Bernardin i New York og New York Times.

Hvis det var 1. april, ville du tro, at det var en parodi - en artikel, der vil blive vist i New York Times T Magazine den 25. oktober, og fastholder, at "den mest udsøgte mad i verden, siger mange berømte kokke", er den, der er tilberedt af en 59-årig buddhistisk nonne ved navn Jeong Kwan ved Baekyangsa-templet fra det syvende århundrede, 169 miles syd for Seoul. Blandt hendes specialiteter, får vi at vide, er champignonhætter fyldt med tofu i tern, kimchee "der har været begravet i et hul i jorden i flere måneder" og græskarpunch "besat med ris nibbles" (hvordan stikker du et slag? ).

Det er ikke en parodi, men hvis du læser artiklen, finder du kun en berømt kok - Eric Ripert fra Le Bernardin på Manhattan, der selv er buddhist - roser Kwans madlavning; nogle andre kokke, herunder Dan Barber og Michel Bras, nævnes som "i samme lejr" som hende, og vi får at vide, at ligesom Ripert finder René Redzepi inspiration i det asiatiske tempelkøkken, men kun Ripert taler direkte til Kwans talenter . Ripert og forfatteren af ​​artiklen, Jeff Gordiner, der regelmæssigt bidrager til Times og mange andre publikationer.

Kwan har ikke kunder; hun laver kun mad til et par andre nonner og nogle gange til munke på det tilstødende kloster og til besøgende - selvom Ripert tog hende med til New York for at forberede et måltid på Le Bernardin tidligt i år. Hun er autodidakt. Alligevel skriver Gordiner, "Kwans frokost efterlod mig ydmyg og begejstret. Her var sammensætninger på tallerkenen, der var så elegante, at de kunne være blevet smidt ind i en smagsmenu på Benu eller Blanca, og ingen ville have slået øjenvipper."

Hendes madlavning er vegansk og mangler hvidløg eller løg (de menes at inspirere til lyst). Der bør ikke være afstand mellem en kok og hendes ingredienser, mener Kwan. "Agurk bliver mig," siger hun til Gordiner. "Jeg bliver agurk."


Dr Zoom

Jonathan Thompson
“Dette er mine børn, ” siger Jeong Kwan, mens hun fører mig gennem sin have. “Jeg kender deres karakterer godt, men selv efter al denne tid overrasker de mig hver dag. ”

Kwan er en buddhistisk nonne. Men hun er også hurtigt ved at blive en af ​​de mest eftertragtede kokke på planeten. Denne dyrebare lille jord, halvvejs op ad en bjergskråning i det landlige Sydkorea, er, hvor hun stille og roligt dyrker sit afkom: auberginer, tomater, agurker, basilikum, chili peber, vilde sesamblade og meget mere, jeg ikke kan genkende, eller oversætteren ikke kan afkode.

Kwan med barberet hoved er en lillebitte figur med lyse øjne med en meget ægte følelse af ulykke og humor under hendes (forudsigelige) Zen-ydre. Hun morede sig tydeligt over en situation, der har set hende udpeget af en række førende internationale kokke, ledet af Eric Ripert fra New York og#8217s, som hyldede Le Bernardin – som en god tro gastronomisk profet.

Skrogabaloo nåede et sådant niveau, at New York Times sendte en kritiker på den 18-timers flyvning til Seoul, efterfulgt af en humpet fire timers bustur ned til Baekyangsa, templet fra det syvende århundrede i Naejangsan National Park, som Kwan kalder hjem. Den ekstravagante pilgrimsvandring var en succes. Det New York Times hyldede nonne -køkkenet som “den mest udsøgte mad i verden ” og dubbede hendes “filosofkokken ”. Navnet sad fast, og tv -hold fulgte.

Mens hallyu , eller den nye koreanske bølge, fortsætter med at strømme gennem restaurantscener i byer som New York, London og Los Angeles, og tunge kokke som Noma ’s René Redzepi rejser til det koreanske bagland for at søge kulinarisk inspiration, den 59-årige gamle Kwan er blevet bevægelsens intetanende coverstjerne.

Dette er en kvinde, der aldrig har arbejdede i en restaurant, endsige ejede en. Hun havde aldrig nogen officiel kulinarisk uddannelse og udgav aldrig en kogebog. Hun bruger ikke hvidløg eller løg i sine (strengt veganske) opskrifter og ingredienser, som nogle buddhister mener, stimulerer libido. Men Kwan har restaurantscenen i New York i sin træl, instruktører klatrer den stejle, støvede halvmile mellem templet og den lille eremit, hun deler med to andre nonner og en helt ny race af acolytter, der står i kø for at fordøje hendes visdom . Selvom hun synes, det er den sjove side af dette, ser hun det også som et nyttigt middel til at sprede sit eget perspektiv på madlavning. For hende skal madlavning aldrig handle om grådighed og slikning af læber og fyld af ansigter. Det bør handle om at servere retter som et middel til en højere ende: rene kroppe og rene sind.

Mad er beregnet til at nære din krop og hjælpe dit sind med at finde oplysning, ” siger hun. Det er en måde at bringe mennesker tilbage til naturen, at rense vores sind for meditation. Sådan vokser vi. ” For at illustrere hendes pointe stikker hun en lille finger i min retning. Du er jorden, og#8221 siger hun. “Maden er frøet. ”
“Overcome ” er et ord, Kwon bruger meget. Sult er noget, man skal være “overvinde ”. De skiftende årstider og deres effekt på hendes køkkenhave skal ligeledes være #overkommende#8221. Og hendes mad i sig selv handler på en måde også om at overvinde. At overvinde frosseri i alle afskygninger og spise enkle retter for at tydeliggøre sind, krop og ånd.

Ligesom Kwan ’s madlavning undgår og også krydret, alt for stor ” vestlig madlavning, gør hendes temperament også det. I sine enkle grå klæder, et blidt smil, der næsten permanent er fastgjort til hendes ansigt, er hun modsætningen til de rosenrøde, narcissistiske tv -kokke i den moderne berømthedstid.

Da vi klatrer de få hundrede meter til hendes eremitage, påpeger hun blomstrende muskatnød, enorme svampe, hun har dyrket i flere måneder og et sjældent, 500 år gammelt Taengja-træ, der stadig producerer appelsiner, hun bruger i sine opskrifter. Der er bogstaveligt talt ingen afstand mellem Kwan og hendes ingredienser: dette er mindre fra bord til bord, mere have til alter. Smag overrasker og begejstrer mig stadig hver dag, ” siger hun. Hvert øjeblik tænker jeg på madlavningen, ingredienserne, opskrifterne. ”

Kwan ’s træhus er, som du måske forventer, meget grundlæggende. Her laver hun mad til to andre nonner og lejlighedsvis nogle af de omkring 50 munke baseret ned ad bakken ved templet. Mens vi taler, forbereder hun frokost. Det er allerede sent på dagen (vi rejste os kort før kl. 5 for buddhistisk meditation og sang og en obligatorisk opgave for tempelgæster), men Kwan flimrer energisk om sit køkken og klæder flagrer som en af ​​sommerfuglene i hendes have.

Simpel som det ser ud, har den resulterende mad en øjeblikkelig effekt. Da de små retter ankommer hurtigt efter hinanden, gør overraskelserne det også: teksturer smelter og harmonerer, mens skarpe, lækre smag vises uanmeldt, mens vi tygger. Hun har magi i hænderne, ” undrer sig over den forfærdede oversætter, hendes mund fuld af pak choi og perilla frø.

Vores træskåle fylder – marineret aubergine med bønnepulver syltet blomme med zanthoxylum græskar fyldt med krydret tofu – hver sart og indviklet i sig selv, men alligevel en del af en overordnet symfoni af smag uden besvær ledet af Kwan. Bagefter føler vi os hverken mætte eller sultne og om noget decideret lettere og mere energiske end da vi startede. Kulinarisk alkymi smagte aldrig så godt.

Så hvor derefter for filosofkokken? Hun er allerede blevet fløjet til New York to gange af Ripert, men for nu er hun glad for at blive i sin eremitage og meditere i mindst fire timer hver dag. På lang sigt siger hun, at hun gerne vil åbne en slags madrestaurant. I midten af ​​perioden udgive en opskriftsbog. På kort sigt har du simpelthen en tendens til sine elskede urter og grøntsager. Jeg har vokset og plejet disse ingredienser, jeg har hældt min energi i dem, ” siger hun. “Den energi kommer ud, når jeg tilbereder dem til et måltid. ”

Og måske er det frem for alt hemmeligheden bag Philosopher Chefs succes. Jeong Kwan har mestret kunsten at lave mad med kærlighed.


Dr Zoom

Jonathan Thompson
“Dette er mine børn, ” siger Jeong Kwan, mens hun fører mig gennem sin have. Jeg kender deres karakterer godt, men selv efter al denne tid overrasker de mig hver dag. ”

Kwan er en buddhistisk nonne. Men hun er også hurtigt ved at blive en af ​​de mest eftertragtede kokke på planeten. Denne dyrebare lille jord, halvvejs op ad en bjergskråning i det landlige Sydkorea, er, hvor hun stille og roligt dyrker sit afkom: auberginer, tomater, agurker, basilikum, chili peber, vilde sesamblade og meget mere, jeg ikke kan genkende, eller oversætteren ikke kan afkode.

Kwan med barberet hoved er en lillebitte figur med lyse øjne med en meget ægte følelse af ulykke og humor under hendes (forudsigelige) Zen-ydre. Hun morede sig tydeligvis over en situation, der har set hende udpeget af en række førende internationale kokke, ledet af Eric Ripert fra New York ’s, hyldede Le Bernardin – som en god tro gastronomisk profet.

Skrogabaloo nåede et sådant niveau, at New York Times sendte en kritiker på den 18-timers flyvning til Seoul, efterfulgt af en humpet fire timers bustur ned til Baekyangsa, templet fra det syvende århundrede i Naejangsan National Park, som Kwan kalder hjem. Den ekstravagante pilgrimsvandring var en succes. Det New York Times hyldede nonne -køkkenet som “den mest udsøgte mad i verden ” og dubbede hendes “filosofkokken ”. Navnet sad fast, og tv -hold fulgte.

Mens hallyu , eller den nye koreanske bølge, fortsætter med at strømme gennem restaurantscener i byer som New York, London og Los Angeles, og tunge kokke som Noma ’s René Redzepi rejser til det koreanske bagland for at søge kulinarisk inspiration, den 59-årige gamle Kwan er blevet bevægelsens intetanende coverstjerne.

Dette er en kvinde, der aldrig har arbejdede i en restaurant, endsige ejede en. Hun havde aldrig nogen officiel kulinarisk uddannelse og udgav aldrig en kogebog. Hun bruger ikke hvidløg eller løg i sine (strengt veganske) opskrifter og ingredienser, som nogle buddhister mener, stimulerer libido. Men Kwan har restaurantscenen i New York i sin træl, instruktører klatrer den stejle, støvede halvmile mellem templet og den lille eremit, hun deler med to andre nonner og en helt ny race af acolytter, der står i kø for at fordøje hendes visdom . Selvom hun synes, det er den sjove side af dette, ser hun det også som et nyttigt middel til at sprede sit eget perspektiv på madlavning. For hende skal madlavning aldrig handle om grådighed og slikning af læber og fyld af ansigter. Det bør handle om at servere retter som et middel til en højere ende: rene kroppe og rene sind.

“Maden er beregnet til at nære din krop og hjælpe dit sind med at finde oplysning, ” siger hun. Det er en måde at bringe mennesker tilbage til naturen, at rense vores sind for meditation. Sådan vokser vi. ” For at illustrere hendes pointe stikker hun en lille finger i min retning. Du er jorden, og#8221 siger hun. “Maden er frøet. ”
“Overcome ” er et ord, Kwon bruger meget. Sult er noget at være “overkomm ”. De skiftende årstider og deres effekt på hendes køkkenhave skal ligeledes være #overkommende#8221. Og hendes mad i sig selv handler på en måde også om at overvinde. At overvinde frosseri i alle afskygninger og spise enkle retter for at tydeliggøre sind, krop og ånd.

Ligesom Kwan's madlavning undgår og også krydret, alt for stor vestlig madlavning, gør hendes temperament også det. I sine enkle grå klæder, et blidt smil, der næsten permanent er fastgjort til hendes ansigt, er hun modsætningen til de rosenrøde, narcissistiske tv -kokke i den moderne berømthedstid.

Da vi klatrer de få hundrede meter til hendes eremitage, påpeger hun blomstrende muskatnød, enorme svampe, hun har dyrket i flere måneder og et sjældent, 500 år gammelt Taengja-træ, der stadig producerer appelsiner, hun bruger i sine opskrifter. Der er bogstaveligt talt ingen afstand mellem Kwan og hendes ingredienser: dette er mindre fra bord til bord, mere have til alter. Smag overrasker og begejstrer mig stadig hver dag, ” siger hun. Hvert øjeblik tænker jeg på madlavningen, ingredienserne, opskrifterne. ”

Kwan ’s træhus er, som du måske forventer, meget grundlæggende. Her laver hun mad til to andre nonner og lejlighedsvis nogle af de omkring 50 munke baseret ned ad bakken ved templet. Mens vi taler, forbereder hun frokost. Det er allerede sent på dagen (vi rejste os kort før kl. 5 for buddhistisk meditation og sang og en obligatorisk opgave for tempelgæster), men Kwan flimrer energisk om sit køkken og klæder flagrer som en af ​​sommerfuglene i hendes have.

Simpel som det ser ud, har den resulterende mad en øjeblikkelig effekt. Da de små retter ankommer hurtigt efter hinanden, gør overraskelserne det også: teksturer smelter og harmonerer, mens skarpe, lækre smag ser uanmeldt ud, mens vi tygger. Hun har magi i hænderne, ” undrer sig over den forfærdede oversætter, hendes mund fuld af pak choi og perilla frø.

Vores træskåle fylder – marineret aubergine med bønnepulver syltet blomme med zanthoxylum græskar fyldt med krydret tofu – hver sart og indviklet i sig selv, men alligevel en del af en overordnet symfoni af smag uden besvær ledet af Kwan. Bagefter føler vi os hverken mætte eller sultne og om noget decideret lettere og mere energiske end da vi startede. Kulinarisk alkymi smagte aldrig så godt.

Så hvor derefter for filosofkokken? Hun er allerede blevet fløjet til New York to gange af Ripert, men for nu er hun glad for at blive i sin eremitage og meditere i mindst fire timer hver dag. På lang sigt siger hun, at hun gerne vil åbne en slags madrestaurant. I midten af ​​perioden udgive en opskriftsbog. På kort sigt har du simpelthen en tendens til sine elskede urter og grøntsager. Jeg har vokset og plejet disse ingredienser, jeg har hældt min energi i dem, ” siger hun. “Den energi kommer ud, når jeg tilbereder dem til et måltid. ”

Og måske er det frem for alt hemmeligheden bag Philosopher Chefs succes. Jeong Kwan har mestret kunsten at lave mad med kærlighed.


Dr Zoom

Jonathan Thompson
“Dette er mine børn, ” siger Jeong Kwan, mens hun fører mig gennem sin have. Jeg kender deres karakterer godt, men selv efter al denne tid overrasker de mig hver dag. ”

Kwan er en buddhistisk nonne. Men hun er også hurtigt ved at blive en af ​​de mest eftertragtede kokke på planeten. Denne dyrebare lille jord, halvvejs op ad en bjergskråning i det landlige Sydkorea, er, hvor hun stille og roligt dyrker sit afkom: auberginer, tomater, agurker, basilikum, chili peber, vilde sesamblade og meget mere, jeg ikke kan genkende, eller oversætteren ikke kan afkode.

Kwan med barberet hoved er en lillebitte figur med lyse øjne med en meget ægte følelse af ulykke og humor under hendes (forudsigelige) Zen-ydre. Hun morede sig tydeligvis over en situation, der har set hende udpeget af en række førende internationale kokke, ledet af Eric Ripert fra New York ’s, hyldede Le Bernardin – som en god tro gastronomisk profet.

Skrogabaloo nåede et sådant niveau, at New York Times sendte en kritiker på den 18-timers flyvning til Seoul, efterfulgt af en humpet fire timers bustur ned til Baekyangsa, templet fra det syvende århundrede i Naejangsan National Park, som Kwan kalder hjem. Den ekstravagante pilgrimsvandring var en succes. Det New York Times hyldede nonne -køkkenet som “den mest udsøgte mad i verden ” og dubbede hendes “filosofkokken ”. Navnet sad fast, og tv -hold fulgte.

Mens hallyu , eller den nye koreanske bølge, fortsætter med at strømme gennem restaurantscener i byer som New York, London og Los Angeles, og tunge kokke som Noma ’s René Redzepi rejser til det koreanske bagland for at søge kulinarisk inspiration, den 59-årige gamle Kwan er blevet bevægelsens intetanende coverstjerne.

Dette er en kvinde, der aldrig har arbejdede i en restaurant, endsige ejede en. Hun havde aldrig nogen officiel kulinarisk uddannelse og udgav aldrig en kogebog. Hun bruger ikke hvidløg eller løg i sine (strengt veganske) opskrifter og ingredienser, som nogle buddhister mener, stimulerer libido. Men Kwan har restaurantscenen i New York i sin træl, instruktører klatrer den stejle, støvede halvmile mellem templet og den lille eremit, hun deler med to andre nonner og en helt ny race af acolytter, der står i kø for at fordøje hendes visdom . Selvom hun synes, det er den sjove side af dette, ser hun det også som et nyttigt middel til at sprede sit eget perspektiv på madlavning. For hende bør madlavning aldrig handle om grådighed og slikning af læber og fyld af ansigter. Det bør handle om at servere retter som et middel til en højere ende: rene kroppe og rene sind.

“Maden er beregnet til at nære din krop og hjælpe dit sind med at finde oplysning, ” siger hun. Det er en måde at bringe mennesker tilbage til naturen, at rense vores sind for meditation. Sådan vokser vi. ” For at illustrere hendes pointe stikker hun en lille finger i min retning. Du er jorden, ” siger hun. “Maden er frøet. ”
“Overcome ” er et ord, Kwon bruger meget. Sult er noget, man skal være “overvinde ”. De skiftende årstider og deres effekt på hendes køkkenhave skal ligeledes være #overkommende#8221. Og hendes mad i sig selv handler på en måde også om at overvinde. At overvinde frosseri i alle afskygninger og spise enkle retter for at tydeliggøre sind, krop og ånd.

Ligesom Kwan's madlavning undgår og også krydret, alt for stor vestlig madlavning, gør hendes temperament også det. I sine enkle grå klæder, et blidt smil, der næsten permanent er fastgjort til hendes ansigt, er hun modsætningen til de rosenrøde, narcissistiske tv -kokke i den moderne berømthedstid.

Da vi klatrer de få hundrede meter til hendes eremitage, påpeger hun blomstrende muskatnød, enorme svampe, hun har dyrket i flere måneder og et sjældent, 500 år gammelt Taengja-træ, der stadig producerer appelsiner, hun bruger i sine opskrifter. Der er bogstaveligt talt ingen afstand mellem Kwan og hendes ingredienser: dette er mindre fra bord til bord, mere have til alter. Smag overrasker og begejstrer mig stadig hver dag, ” siger hun. Hvert øjeblik tænker jeg på madlavningen, ingredienserne, opskrifterne. ”

Kwan ’s træhus er, som du måske forventer, meget grundlæggende. Her laver hun mad til to andre nonner og lejlighedsvis nogle af de omkring 50 munke baseret ned ad bakken ved templet. Mens vi taler, forbereder hun frokost. Det er allerede sent på dagen (vi rejste os kort før kl. 5 for buddhistisk meditation og sang og en obligatorisk opgave for tempelgæster), men Kwan flimrer energisk om sit køkken og klæder flagrer som en af ​​sommerfuglene i hendes have.

Simpel som det ser ud, har den resulterende mad en øjeblikkelig effekt. Da de små retter ankommer hurtigt efter hinanden, gør overraskelserne det også: teksturer smelter og harmonerer, mens skarpe, lækre smag ser uanmeldt ud, mens vi tygger. Hun har magi i hænderne, ” undrer sig over den forfærdede oversætter, hendes mund fuld af pak choi og perilla frø.

Vores træskåle fylder – marineret aubergine med bønnepulver syltet blomme med zanthoxylum græskar fyldt med krydret tofu – hver sart og indviklet i sig selv, men alligevel en del af en overordnet symfoni af smag uden besvær ledet af Kwan. Bagefter føler vi os hverken mætte eller sultne og om noget decideret lettere og mere energiske end da vi startede. Kulinarisk alkymi smagte aldrig så godt.

Så hvor derefter for filosofkokken? Hun er allerede blevet fløjet til New York to gange af Ripert, men for nu er hun glad for at blive i sin eremitage og meditere i mindst fire timer hver dag. På lang sigt siger hun, at hun gerne vil åbne en slags madrestaurant. I midten af ​​perioden udgive en opskriftsbog. På kort sigt har du simpelthen en tendens til sine elskede urter og grøntsager. Jeg har vokset og plejet disse ingredienser, jeg har hældt min energi i dem, ” siger hun. “Den energi kommer ud, når jeg tilbereder dem til et måltid. ”

Og måske er det frem for alt hemmeligheden bag Philosopher Chefs succes. Jeong Kwan har mestret kunsten at lave mad med kærlighed.


Dr Zoom

Jonathan Thompson
“Dette er mine børn, ” siger Jeong Kwan, mens hun fører mig gennem sin have. “Jeg kender deres karakterer godt, men selv efter al denne tid overrasker de mig hver dag. ”

Kwan er en buddhistisk nonne. Men hun er også hurtigt ved at blive en af ​​de mest eftertragtede kokke på planeten. Denne dyrebare lille jord, halvvejs op ad en bjergskråning i det landlige Sydkorea, er, hvor hun stille og roligt dyrker sit afkom: auberginer, tomater, agurker, basilikum, chili peber, vilde sesamblade og meget mere, jeg ikke kan genkende, eller oversætteren ikke kan afkode.

Kwan med barberet hoved er en lillebitte figur med lyse øjne med en meget reel følelse af ulykke og humor under hendes (forudsigelige) Zen-ydre. Hun morede sig tydeligt over en situation, der har set hende udpeget af en række førende internationale kokke, ledet af Eric Ripert fra New York og#8217s, som hyldede Le Bernardin – som en god tro gastronomisk profet.

Skrogabaloo nåede et sådant niveau, at New York Times sendte en kritiker på den 18-timers flyvning til Seoul, efterfulgt af en humpet fire timers bustur ned til Baekyangsa, templet fra det syvende århundrede i Naejangsan National Park, som Kwan kalder hjem. Den ekstravagante pilgrimsvandring var en succes. Det New York Times hyldede nonne -køkkenet som “den mest udsøgte mad i verden ” og dubbede hendes “filosofkokken ”. Navnet sad fast, og tv -hold fulgte.

Mens hallyu , eller den nye koreanske bølge, fortsætter med at strømme gennem restaurantscener i byer som New York, London og Los Angeles, og tunge kokke som Noma ’s René Redzepi rejser til det koreanske bagland for at søge kulinarisk inspiration, den 59-årige gamle Kwan er blevet bevægelsens intetanende coverstjerne.

Dette er en kvinde, der aldrig har arbejdede i en restaurant, endsige ejede en. Hun havde aldrig nogen officiel kulinarisk uddannelse og udgav aldrig en kogebog. Hun bruger ikke hvidløg eller løg i sine (strengt veganske) opskrifter og ingredienser, som nogle buddhister mener, stimulerer libido. Men Kwan har restaurantscenen i New York i sin træl, instruktører klatrer den stejle, støvede halvmile mellem templet og den lille eremit, hun deler med to andre nonner og en helt ny race af acolytter, der står i kø for at fordøje hendes visdom . Selvom hun synes, det er den sjove side af dette, ser hun det også som et nyttigt middel til at sprede sit eget perspektiv på madlavning. For hende skal madlavning aldrig handle om grådighed og slikning af læber og fyld af ansigter. Det bør handle om at servere retter som et middel til en højere ende: rene kroppe og rene sind.

“Maden er beregnet til at nære din krop og hjælpe dit sind med at finde oplysning, ” siger hun. Det er en måde at bringe mennesker tilbage til naturen, at rense vores sind for meditation. Sådan vokser vi. ” For at illustrere hendes pointe stikker hun en lille finger i min retning. Du er jorden, ” siger hun. “Maden er frøet. ”
“Overcome ” er et ord, Kwon bruger meget. Sult er noget at være “overkomm ”. De skiftende årstider og deres effekt på hendes køkkenhave skal ligeledes være #overkommende#8221. Og hendes mad i sig selv handler på en måde også om at overvinde. At overvinde frosseri i alle afskygninger og spise enkle retter for at tydeliggøre sind, krop og ånd.

Ligesom Kwan's madlavning undgår og også krydret, alt for stor vestlig madlavning, gør hendes temperament også det. I sine enkle grå klæder, et blidt smil, der næsten permanent er fastgjort til hendes ansigt, er hun modsætningen til de rosenrøde, narcissistiske tv -kokke i den moderne berømthedstid.

Da vi klatrer de få hundrede meter til hendes eremitage, påpeger hun blomstrende muskatnød, enorme svampe, hun har dyrket i flere måneder og et sjældent, 500 år gammelt Taengja-træ, der stadig producerer appelsiner, hun bruger i sine opskrifter. Der er bogstaveligt talt ingen afstand mellem Kwan og hendes ingredienser: dette er mindre gård til bord, mere have til alter. Smag overrasker og begejstrer mig stadig hver dag, ” siger hun. Hvert øjeblik tænker jeg på madlavningen, ingredienserne, opskrifterne. ”

Kwan ’s træhus er, som du måske forventer, meget grundlæggende. Her laver hun mad til to andre nonner og lejlighedsvis nogle af de omkring 50 munke baseret ned ad bakken ved templet. Mens vi taler, forbereder hun frokost. Det er allerede sent på dagen (vi rejste os kort før kl. 5 for buddhistisk meditation og sang og en obligatorisk opgave for tempelgæster), men Kwan flimrer energisk om sit køkken og klæder flagrer som en af ​​sommerfuglene i hendes have.

Simpel som det ser ud, har den resulterende mad en øjeblikkelig effekt. Da de små retter ankommer hurtigt efter hinanden, gør overraskelserne det også: teksturer smelter og harmonerer, mens skarpe, lækre smag vises uanmeldt, mens vi tygger. Hun har magi i hænderne, ” undrer sig over den forfærdede oversætter, hendes mund fuld af pak choi og perilla frø.

Vores træskåle fylder – marineret aubergine med bønnepulver syltet blomme med zanthoxylum græskar fyldt med krydret tofu – hver sart og indviklet i sig selv, men alligevel en del af en overordnet symfoni af smag uden besvær ledet af Kwan. Bagefter føler vi os hverken mætte eller sultne og om noget decideret lettere og mere energiske end da vi startede. Kulinarisk alkymi smagte aldrig så godt.

Så hvor derefter for filosofkokken? Hun er allerede blevet fløjet til New York to gange af Ripert, men for nu er hun glad for at blive i sin eremitage og meditere i mindst fire timer hver dag. På lang sigt siger hun, at hun gerne vil åbne en slags madrestaurant. I midten af ​​perioden udgive en opskriftsbog. På kort sigt har du simpelthen en tendens til sine elskede urter og grøntsager. Jeg har vokset og plejet disse ingredienser, jeg har hældt min energi i dem, ” siger hun. “Den energi kommer ud, når jeg tilbereder dem til et måltid. ”

Og måske er det frem for alt hemmeligheden bag Philosopher Chefs succes. Jeong Kwan har mestret kunsten at lave mad med kærlighed.


Dr Zoom

Jonathan Thompson
“Dette er mine børn, ” siger Jeong Kwan, mens hun fører mig gennem sin have. “Jeg kender deres karakterer godt, men selv efter al denne tid overrasker de mig hver dag. ”

Kwan er en buddhistisk nonne. Men hun er også hurtigt ved at blive en af ​​de mest eftertragtede kokke på planeten. Denne dyrebare lille jord, halvvejs op ad en bjergskråning i det landlige Sydkorea, er, hvor hun stille og roligt dyrker sit afkom: auberginer, tomater, agurker, basilikum, chili peber, vilde sesamblade og meget mere, jeg ikke kan genkende, eller oversætteren ikke kan afkode.

Kwan med barberet hoved er en lillebitte figur med lyse øjne med en meget reel følelse af ulykke og humor under hendes (forudsigelige) Zen-ydre. Hun morede sig tydeligt over en situation, der har set hende udpeget af en række førende internationale kokke, ledet af Eric Ripert fra New York og#8217s, som hyldede Le Bernardin – som en god tro gastronomisk profet.

Skrogabaloo nåede et sådant niveau, at New York Times sendte en kritiker på den 18-timers flyvning til Seoul, efterfulgt af en humpet fire timers bustur ned til Baekyangsa, templet fra det syvende århundrede i Naejangsan National Park, som Kwan kalder hjem. Den ekstravagante pilgrimsvandring var en succes. Det New York Times hyldede nonne -køkkenet som “den mest udsøgte mad i verden ” og dubbede hendes “filosofkokken ”. Navnet sad fast, og tv -hold fulgte.

Mens hallyu , eller den nye koreanske bølge, fortsætter med at strømme gennem restaurantscener i byer som New York, London og Los Angeles, og tunge kokke som Noma ’s René Redzepi rejser til det koreanske bagland for at søge kulinarisk inspiration, den 59-årige gamle Kwan er blevet bevægelsens intetanende coverstjerne.

Dette er en kvinde, der aldrig har arbejdede i en restaurant, endsige ejede en. Hun havde aldrig nogen officiel kulinarisk uddannelse og udgav aldrig en kogebog. Hun bruger ikke hvidløg eller løg i sine (strengt veganske) opskrifter og ingredienser, som nogle buddhister mener stimulerer libido. Men Kwan har restaurantscenen i New York i sin træl, instruktører klatrer den stejle, støvede halvmile mellem templet og den lille eremit, hun deler med to andre nonner og en helt ny race af acolytter, der står i kø for at fordøje hendes visdom . Selvom hun synes, det er den sjove side af dette, ser hun det også som et nyttigt middel til at sprede sit eget perspektiv på madlavning. For hende bør madlavning aldrig handle om grådighed og slikning af læber og fyld af ansigter. Det bør handle om at servere retter som et middel til en højere ende: rene kroppe og rene sind.

Mad er beregnet til at nære din krop og hjælpe dit sind med at finde oplysning, ” siger hun. Det er en måde at bringe mennesker tilbage til naturen, at rense vores sind for meditation. Sådan vokser vi. ” For at illustrere hendes pointe stikker hun en lille finger i min retning. Du er jorden, ” siger hun. “Maden er frøet. ”
“Overcome ” er et ord, Kwon bruger meget. Sult er noget, man skal være “overvinde ”. De skiftende årstider og deres effekt på hendes køkkenhave skal ligeledes være #overkommende#8221. Og hendes mad i sig selv handler på en måde også om at overvinde. At overvinde frosseri i alle afskygninger og spise enkle retter for at tydeliggøre sind, krop og ånd.

Ligesom Kwan's madlavning undgår og også krydret, alt for stor vestlig madlavning, gør hendes temperament også det. I sine enkle grå klæder, et blidt smil, der næsten permanent er fastgjort til hendes ansigt, er hun modsætningen til de rosenrøde, narcissistiske tv -kokke i den moderne berømthedstid.

Da vi klatrer de få hundrede meter til hendes eremitage, påpeger hun blomstrende muskatnød, enorme svampe, hun har dyrket i flere måneder og et sjældent, 500 år gammelt Taengja-træ, der stadig producerer appelsiner, hun bruger i sine opskrifter. Der er bogstaveligt talt ingen afstand mellem Kwan og hendes ingredienser: dette er mindre fra bord til bord, mere have til alter. Smag overrasker og begejstrer mig stadig hver dag, ” siger hun. Hvert øjeblik tænker jeg på madlavningen, ingredienserne, opskrifterne. ”

Kwan ’s træhus er, som du måske forventer, meget grundlæggende. Her laver hun mad til to andre nonner og lejlighedsvis nogle af de omkring 50 munke baseret ned ad bakken ved templet. As we talk, she prepares lunch. It’s already late in the day (we rose shortly before 5am for Buddhist meditation and chanting – a compulsory undertaking for temple guests), but Kwan flits energetically about her kitchen, robes fluttering like one of the butterflies in her garden.

Simple as it looks, the resulting food has an instant impact. As the small dishes arrive in swift succession, so too do the surprises: textures melt and harmonise while sharp, delicious flavours appear unannounced as we chew. “She has magic in her hands,” wonders the awestruck translator, her mouth full of pak choi and perilla seeds.

Our wooden bowls fill – marinated aubergine with bean powder pickled plum with zanthoxylum pumpkin stuffed with spicy tofu – each delicate and intricate in itself, yet part of an overall symphony of flavours effortlessly conducted by Kwan. Afterwards we feel neither full nor hungry and, if anything, decidedly lighter and more energetic than when we started. Culinary alchemy never tasted so good.

So where next for the philosopher chef? She’s already been flown to New York twice by Ripert, but for now she’s happy to stay in her hermitage, meditating for a minimum four hours each day. In the long term, she says she’d like to open a temple food restaurant of sorts. In the mid term, publish a recipe book. In the short term, simply tend to her beloved herbs and vegetables. “I have grown and cared for these ingredients, I have poured my energy into them,” she says. “That energy comes out when I prepare them in a meal.”

And perhaps that, above all, is the secret of the Philosopher Chef’s success. Jeong Kwan has mastered the art of cooking with love.


Dr Zoom

Jonathan Thompson
“These are my children,” says Jeong Kwan as she ushers me through her garden. “I know their characters well, but even after all this time, they surprise me every day.”

Kwan is a Buddhist nun. But she is also rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after chefs on the planet. This precious little patch of land, halfway up a hillside in rural South Korea, is where she quietly cultivates her progeny: aubergines, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, chilli peppers, wild sesame leaves and plenty more I can’t recognise, or the translator cannot decode.

Shaven-headed Kwan is a tiny, bright-eyed figure with a very real sense of mischief and humour beneath her (predictably) Zen exterior. She’s clearly amused by a situation which has seen her singled out by a number of leading international chefs – led by Eric Ripert of New York’s vaunted Le Bernardin – as a bona fide gastronomic prophet.

The hullabaloo reached such a level that the New York Times dispatched a critic on the 18-hour flight to Seoul, followed by a bumpy four-hour bus ride down to Baekyangsa , the seventh-century temple in the Naejangsan National Park that Kwan calls home. The extravagant pilgrimage was a success. Det New York Times hailed the nun’s cuisine as “the most exquisite food in the world”, dubbing her “the philosopher chef”. The name stuck, and TV crews followed.

Mens hallyu , or the new Korean wave, continues to surge through the restaurant scenes of cities such as New York, London and Los Angeles, and heavyweight chefs like Noma ’s René Redzepi travel to the Korean hinterland seeking culinary inspiration, the 59-year-old Kwan has become the movement’s unsuspecting cover star.

This is a woman who has never arbejdede in a restaurant, let alone owned one. She’s never had any official culinary training and never published a cookbook. She doesn’t use garlic or onions in her (strictly vegan) recipes – ingredients which some Buddhists believe stimulate the libido. But Kwan has the New York restaurant scene in her thrall, directors climbing the steep, dusty half-mile between the temple and the small hermitage she shares with two other nuns – and an entirely new breed of acolytes queuing up to digest her wisdom. While she finds it the funny side of this, she also sees it as a useful means of propagating her own perspective on food preparation. For her, cooking should never be about greed – the licking of lips and the stuffing of faces. It should be about serving dishes as a means to a higher end: clean bodies and clean minds.

“Food is meant to nourish your body and help your mind find enlightenment,” she says. “It’s a way of bringing humans back to nature, of clearing our minds for meditation. This is how we grow.” To illustrate her point, she jabs a tiny finger in my direction. “You’re the soil,” she says. “Food is the seed.”
“Overcome” is a word Kwon uses a lot. Hunger is something to be “overcome”. The changing seasons, and their effect on her vegetable garden, are likewise to be “overcome”. And her food itself, in a way, is about overcoming, too. Overcoming gluttony in all its guises and eating simple dishes to clarify mind, body and spirit.

Just as Kwan’s cooking eschews “overly spiced, overly sized” western cooking, so too does her temperament. In her simple grey robes, a gentle smile almost permanently fixed to her face, she is the antithesis of the ranting, narcissistic TV chefs of the modern celebrity era.

As we climb the few hundred metres to her hermitage, she points out thriving nutmeg, enormous mushrooms she’s been cultivating for months and a rare, 500-year-old Taengja tree which still produces oranges she uses in her recipes. There is literally no distance between Kwan and her ingredients: this is less farm to table, more garden to altar. “Flavours still surprise and excite me every day,” she says. “Each moment I am thinking about the cooking, the ingredients, the recipes.”

Kwan’s wooden home is, as you might expect, very basic. Here she cooks for two other nuns and occasionally some of the 50 or so monks based down the hill at the temple. As we talk, she prepares lunch. It’s already late in the day (we rose shortly before 5am for Buddhist meditation and chanting – a compulsory undertaking for temple guests), but Kwan flits energetically about her kitchen, robes fluttering like one of the butterflies in her garden.

Simple as it looks, the resulting food has an instant impact. As the small dishes arrive in swift succession, so too do the surprises: textures melt and harmonise while sharp, delicious flavours appear unannounced as we chew. “She has magic in her hands,” wonders the awestruck translator, her mouth full of pak choi and perilla seeds.

Our wooden bowls fill – marinated aubergine with bean powder pickled plum with zanthoxylum pumpkin stuffed with spicy tofu – each delicate and intricate in itself, yet part of an overall symphony of flavours effortlessly conducted by Kwan. Afterwards we feel neither full nor hungry and, if anything, decidedly lighter and more energetic than when we started. Culinary alchemy never tasted so good.

So where next for the philosopher chef? She’s already been flown to New York twice by Ripert, but for now she’s happy to stay in her hermitage, meditating for a minimum four hours each day. In the long term, she says she’d like to open a temple food restaurant of sorts. In the mid term, publish a recipe book. In the short term, simply tend to her beloved herbs and vegetables. “I have grown and cared for these ingredients, I have poured my energy into them,” she says. “That energy comes out when I prepare them in a meal.”

And perhaps that, above all, is the secret of the Philosopher Chef’s success. Jeong Kwan has mastered the art of cooking with love.


Dr Zoom

Jonathan Thompson
“These are my children,” says Jeong Kwan as she ushers me through her garden. “I know their characters well, but even after all this time, they surprise me every day.”

Kwan is a Buddhist nun. But she is also rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after chefs on the planet. This precious little patch of land, halfway up a hillside in rural South Korea, is where she quietly cultivates her progeny: aubergines, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, chilli peppers, wild sesame leaves and plenty more I can’t recognise, or the translator cannot decode.

Shaven-headed Kwan is a tiny, bright-eyed figure with a very real sense of mischief and humour beneath her (predictably) Zen exterior. She’s clearly amused by a situation which has seen her singled out by a number of leading international chefs – led by Eric Ripert of New York’s vaunted Le Bernardin – as a bona fide gastronomic prophet.

The hullabaloo reached such a level that the New York Times dispatched a critic on the 18-hour flight to Seoul, followed by a bumpy four-hour bus ride down to Baekyangsa , the seventh-century temple in the Naejangsan National Park that Kwan calls home. The extravagant pilgrimage was a success. Det New York Times hailed the nun’s cuisine as “the most exquisite food in the world”, dubbing her “the philosopher chef”. The name stuck, and TV crews followed.

Mens hallyu , or the new Korean wave, continues to surge through the restaurant scenes of cities such as New York, London and Los Angeles, and heavyweight chefs like Noma ’s René Redzepi travel to the Korean hinterland seeking culinary inspiration, the 59-year-old Kwan has become the movement’s unsuspecting cover star.

This is a woman who has never arbejdede in a restaurant, let alone owned one. She’s never had any official culinary training and never published a cookbook. She doesn’t use garlic or onions in her (strictly vegan) recipes – ingredients which some Buddhists believe stimulate the libido. But Kwan has the New York restaurant scene in her thrall, directors climbing the steep, dusty half-mile between the temple and the small hermitage she shares with two other nuns – and an entirely new breed of acolytes queuing up to digest her wisdom. While she finds it the funny side of this, she also sees it as a useful means of propagating her own perspective on food preparation. For her, cooking should never be about greed – the licking of lips and the stuffing of faces. It should be about serving dishes as a means to a higher end: clean bodies and clean minds.

“Food is meant to nourish your body and help your mind find enlightenment,” she says. “It’s a way of bringing humans back to nature, of clearing our minds for meditation. This is how we grow.” To illustrate her point, she jabs a tiny finger in my direction. “You’re the soil,” she says. “Food is the seed.”
“Overcome” is a word Kwon uses a lot. Hunger is something to be “overcome”. The changing seasons, and their effect on her vegetable garden, are likewise to be “overcome”. And her food itself, in a way, is about overcoming, too. Overcoming gluttony in all its guises and eating simple dishes to clarify mind, body and spirit.

Just as Kwan’s cooking eschews “overly spiced, overly sized” western cooking, so too does her temperament. In her simple grey robes, a gentle smile almost permanently fixed to her face, she is the antithesis of the ranting, narcissistic TV chefs of the modern celebrity era.

As we climb the few hundred metres to her hermitage, she points out thriving nutmeg, enormous mushrooms she’s been cultivating for months and a rare, 500-year-old Taengja tree which still produces oranges she uses in her recipes. There is literally no distance between Kwan and her ingredients: this is less farm to table, more garden to altar. “Flavours still surprise and excite me every day,” she says. “Each moment I am thinking about the cooking, the ingredients, the recipes.”

Kwan’s wooden home is, as you might expect, very basic. Here she cooks for two other nuns and occasionally some of the 50 or so monks based down the hill at the temple. As we talk, she prepares lunch. It’s already late in the day (we rose shortly before 5am for Buddhist meditation and chanting – a compulsory undertaking for temple guests), but Kwan flits energetically about her kitchen, robes fluttering like one of the butterflies in her garden.

Simple as it looks, the resulting food has an instant impact. As the small dishes arrive in swift succession, so too do the surprises: textures melt and harmonise while sharp, delicious flavours appear unannounced as we chew. “She has magic in her hands,” wonders the awestruck translator, her mouth full of pak choi and perilla seeds.

Our wooden bowls fill – marinated aubergine with bean powder pickled plum with zanthoxylum pumpkin stuffed with spicy tofu – each delicate and intricate in itself, yet part of an overall symphony of flavours effortlessly conducted by Kwan. Afterwards we feel neither full nor hungry and, if anything, decidedly lighter and more energetic than when we started. Culinary alchemy never tasted so good.

So where next for the philosopher chef? She’s already been flown to New York twice by Ripert, but for now she’s happy to stay in her hermitage, meditating for a minimum four hours each day. In the long term, she says she’d like to open a temple food restaurant of sorts. In the mid term, publish a recipe book. In the short term, simply tend to her beloved herbs and vegetables. “I have grown and cared for these ingredients, I have poured my energy into them,” she says. “That energy comes out when I prepare them in a meal.”

And perhaps that, above all, is the secret of the Philosopher Chef’s success. Jeong Kwan has mastered the art of cooking with love.


Dr Zoom

Jonathan Thompson
“These are my children,” says Jeong Kwan as she ushers me through her garden. “I know their characters well, but even after all this time, they surprise me every day.”

Kwan is a Buddhist nun. But she is also rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after chefs on the planet. This precious little patch of land, halfway up a hillside in rural South Korea, is where she quietly cultivates her progeny: aubergines, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, chilli peppers, wild sesame leaves and plenty more I can’t recognise, or the translator cannot decode.

Shaven-headed Kwan is a tiny, bright-eyed figure with a very real sense of mischief and humour beneath her (predictably) Zen exterior. She’s clearly amused by a situation which has seen her singled out by a number of leading international chefs – led by Eric Ripert of New York’s vaunted Le Bernardin – as a bona fide gastronomic prophet.

The hullabaloo reached such a level that the New York Times dispatched a critic on the 18-hour flight to Seoul, followed by a bumpy four-hour bus ride down to Baekyangsa , the seventh-century temple in the Naejangsan National Park that Kwan calls home. The extravagant pilgrimage was a success. Det New York Times hailed the nun’s cuisine as “the most exquisite food in the world”, dubbing her “the philosopher chef”. The name stuck, and TV crews followed.

Mens hallyu , or the new Korean wave, continues to surge through the restaurant scenes of cities such as New York, London and Los Angeles, and heavyweight chefs like Noma ’s René Redzepi travel to the Korean hinterland seeking culinary inspiration, the 59-year-old Kwan has become the movement’s unsuspecting cover star.

This is a woman who has never arbejdede in a restaurant, let alone owned one. She’s never had any official culinary training and never published a cookbook. She doesn’t use garlic or onions in her (strictly vegan) recipes – ingredients which some Buddhists believe stimulate the libido. But Kwan has the New York restaurant scene in her thrall, directors climbing the steep, dusty half-mile between the temple and the small hermitage she shares with two other nuns – and an entirely new breed of acolytes queuing up to digest her wisdom. While she finds it the funny side of this, she also sees it as a useful means of propagating her own perspective on food preparation. For her, cooking should never be about greed – the licking of lips and the stuffing of faces. It should be about serving dishes as a means to a higher end: clean bodies and clean minds.

“Food is meant to nourish your body and help your mind find enlightenment,” she says. “It’s a way of bringing humans back to nature, of clearing our minds for meditation. This is how we grow.” To illustrate her point, she jabs a tiny finger in my direction. “You’re the soil,” she says. “Food is the seed.”
“Overcome” is a word Kwon uses a lot. Hunger is something to be “overcome”. The changing seasons, and their effect on her vegetable garden, are likewise to be “overcome”. And her food itself, in a way, is about overcoming, too. Overcoming gluttony in all its guises and eating simple dishes to clarify mind, body and spirit.

Just as Kwan’s cooking eschews “overly spiced, overly sized” western cooking, so too does her temperament. In her simple grey robes, a gentle smile almost permanently fixed to her face, she is the antithesis of the ranting, narcissistic TV chefs of the modern celebrity era.

As we climb the few hundred metres to her hermitage, she points out thriving nutmeg, enormous mushrooms she’s been cultivating for months and a rare, 500-year-old Taengja tree which still produces oranges she uses in her recipes. There is literally no distance between Kwan and her ingredients: this is less farm to table, more garden to altar. “Flavours still surprise and excite me every day,” she says. “Each moment I am thinking about the cooking, the ingredients, the recipes.”

Kwan’s wooden home is, as you might expect, very basic. Here she cooks for two other nuns and occasionally some of the 50 or so monks based down the hill at the temple. As we talk, she prepares lunch. It’s already late in the day (we rose shortly before 5am for Buddhist meditation and chanting – a compulsory undertaking for temple guests), but Kwan flits energetically about her kitchen, robes fluttering like one of the butterflies in her garden.

Simple as it looks, the resulting food has an instant impact. As the small dishes arrive in swift succession, so too do the surprises: textures melt and harmonise while sharp, delicious flavours appear unannounced as we chew. “She has magic in her hands,” wonders the awestruck translator, her mouth full of pak choi and perilla seeds.

Our wooden bowls fill – marinated aubergine with bean powder pickled plum with zanthoxylum pumpkin stuffed with spicy tofu – each delicate and intricate in itself, yet part of an overall symphony of flavours effortlessly conducted by Kwan. Afterwards we feel neither full nor hungry and, if anything, decidedly lighter and more energetic than when we started. Culinary alchemy never tasted so good.

So where next for the philosopher chef? She’s already been flown to New York twice by Ripert, but for now she’s happy to stay in her hermitage, meditating for a minimum four hours each day. In the long term, she says she’d like to open a temple food restaurant of sorts. In the mid term, publish a recipe book. In the short term, simply tend to her beloved herbs and vegetables. “I have grown and cared for these ingredients, I have poured my energy into them,” she says. “That energy comes out when I prepare them in a meal.”

And perhaps that, above all, is the secret of the Philosopher Chef’s success. Jeong Kwan has mastered the art of cooking with love.


Dr Zoom

Jonathan Thompson
“These are my children,” says Jeong Kwan as she ushers me through her garden. “I know their characters well, but even after all this time, they surprise me every day.”

Kwan is a Buddhist nun. But she is also rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after chefs on the planet. This precious little patch of land, halfway up a hillside in rural South Korea, is where she quietly cultivates her progeny: aubergines, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, chilli peppers, wild sesame leaves and plenty more I can’t recognise, or the translator cannot decode.

Shaven-headed Kwan is a tiny, bright-eyed figure with a very real sense of mischief and humour beneath her (predictably) Zen exterior. She’s clearly amused by a situation which has seen her singled out by a number of leading international chefs – led by Eric Ripert of New York’s vaunted Le Bernardin – as a bona fide gastronomic prophet.

The hullabaloo reached such a level that the New York Times dispatched a critic on the 18-hour flight to Seoul, followed by a bumpy four-hour bus ride down to Baekyangsa , the seventh-century temple in the Naejangsan National Park that Kwan calls home. The extravagant pilgrimage was a success. Det New York Times hailed the nun’s cuisine as “the most exquisite food in the world”, dubbing her “the philosopher chef”. The name stuck, and TV crews followed.

Mens hallyu , or the new Korean wave, continues to surge through the restaurant scenes of cities such as New York, London and Los Angeles, and heavyweight chefs like Noma ’s René Redzepi travel to the Korean hinterland seeking culinary inspiration, the 59-year-old Kwan has become the movement’s unsuspecting cover star.

This is a woman who has never arbejdede in a restaurant, let alone owned one. She’s never had any official culinary training and never published a cookbook. She doesn’t use garlic or onions in her (strictly vegan) recipes – ingredients which some Buddhists believe stimulate the libido. But Kwan has the New York restaurant scene in her thrall, directors climbing the steep, dusty half-mile between the temple and the small hermitage she shares with two other nuns – and an entirely new breed of acolytes queuing up to digest her wisdom. While she finds it the funny side of this, she also sees it as a useful means of propagating her own perspective on food preparation. For her, cooking should never be about greed – the licking of lips and the stuffing of faces. It should be about serving dishes as a means to a higher end: clean bodies and clean minds.

“Food is meant to nourish your body and help your mind find enlightenment,” she says. “It’s a way of bringing humans back to nature, of clearing our minds for meditation. This is how we grow.” To illustrate her point, she jabs a tiny finger in my direction. “You’re the soil,” she says. “Food is the seed.”
“Overcome” is a word Kwon uses a lot. Hunger is something to be “overcome”. The changing seasons, and their effect on her vegetable garden, are likewise to be “overcome”. And her food itself, in a way, is about overcoming, too. Overcoming gluttony in all its guises and eating simple dishes to clarify mind, body and spirit.

Just as Kwan’s cooking eschews “overly spiced, overly sized” western cooking, so too does her temperament. In her simple grey robes, a gentle smile almost permanently fixed to her face, she is the antithesis of the ranting, narcissistic TV chefs of the modern celebrity era.

As we climb the few hundred metres to her hermitage, she points out thriving nutmeg, enormous mushrooms she’s been cultivating for months and a rare, 500-year-old Taengja tree which still produces oranges she uses in her recipes. There is literally no distance between Kwan and her ingredients: this is less farm to table, more garden to altar. “Flavours still surprise and excite me every day,” she says. “Each moment I am thinking about the cooking, the ingredients, the recipes.”

Kwan’s wooden home is, as you might expect, very basic. Here she cooks for two other nuns and occasionally some of the 50 or so monks based down the hill at the temple. As we talk, she prepares lunch. It’s already late in the day (we rose shortly before 5am for Buddhist meditation and chanting – a compulsory undertaking for temple guests), but Kwan flits energetically about her kitchen, robes fluttering like one of the butterflies in her garden.

Simple as it looks, the resulting food has an instant impact. As the small dishes arrive in swift succession, so too do the surprises: textures melt and harmonise while sharp, delicious flavours appear unannounced as we chew. “She has magic in her hands,” wonders the awestruck translator, her mouth full of pak choi and perilla seeds.

Our wooden bowls fill – marinated aubergine with bean powder pickled plum with zanthoxylum pumpkin stuffed with spicy tofu – each delicate and intricate in itself, yet part of an overall symphony of flavours effortlessly conducted by Kwan. Afterwards we feel neither full nor hungry and, if anything, decidedly lighter and more energetic than when we started. Culinary alchemy never tasted so good.

So where next for the philosopher chef? She’s already been flown to New York twice by Ripert, but for now she’s happy to stay in her hermitage, meditating for a minimum four hours each day. In the long term, she says she’d like to open a temple food restaurant of sorts. In the mid term, publish a recipe book. In the short term, simply tend to her beloved herbs and vegetables. “I have grown and cared for these ingredients, I have poured my energy into them,” she says. “That energy comes out when I prepare them in a meal.”

And perhaps that, above all, is the secret of the Philosopher Chef’s success. Jeong Kwan has mastered the art of cooking with love.


Dr Zoom

Jonathan Thompson
“These are my children,” says Jeong Kwan as she ushers me through her garden. “I know their characters well, but even after all this time, they surprise me every day.”

Kwan is a Buddhist nun. But she is also rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after chefs on the planet. This precious little patch of land, halfway up a hillside in rural South Korea, is where she quietly cultivates her progeny: aubergines, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, chilli peppers, wild sesame leaves and plenty more I can’t recognise, or the translator cannot decode.

Shaven-headed Kwan is a tiny, bright-eyed figure with a very real sense of mischief and humour beneath her (predictably) Zen exterior. She’s clearly amused by a situation which has seen her singled out by a number of leading international chefs – led by Eric Ripert of New York’s vaunted Le Bernardin – as a bona fide gastronomic prophet.

The hullabaloo reached such a level that the New York Times dispatched a critic on the 18-hour flight to Seoul, followed by a bumpy four-hour bus ride down to Baekyangsa , the seventh-century temple in the Naejangsan National Park that Kwan calls home. The extravagant pilgrimage was a success. Det New York Times hailed the nun’s cuisine as “the most exquisite food in the world”, dubbing her “the philosopher chef”. The name stuck, and TV crews followed.

Mens hallyu , or the new Korean wave, continues to surge through the restaurant scenes of cities such as New York, London and Los Angeles, and heavyweight chefs like Noma ’s René Redzepi travel to the Korean hinterland seeking culinary inspiration, the 59-year-old Kwan has become the movement’s unsuspecting cover star.

This is a woman who has never arbejdede in a restaurant, let alone owned one. She’s never had any official culinary training and never published a cookbook. She doesn’t use garlic or onions in her (strictly vegan) recipes – ingredients which some Buddhists believe stimulate the libido. But Kwan has the New York restaurant scene in her thrall, directors climbing the steep, dusty half-mile between the temple and the small hermitage she shares with two other nuns – and an entirely new breed of acolytes queuing up to digest her wisdom. While she finds it the funny side of this, she also sees it as a useful means of propagating her own perspective on food preparation. For her, cooking should never be about greed – the licking of lips and the stuffing of faces. It should be about serving dishes as a means to a higher end: clean bodies and clean minds.

“Food is meant to nourish your body and help your mind find enlightenment,” she says. “It’s a way of bringing humans back to nature, of clearing our minds for meditation. This is how we grow.” To illustrate her point, she jabs a tiny finger in my direction. “You’re the soil,” she says. “Food is the seed.”
“Overcome” is a word Kwon uses a lot. Hunger is something to be “overcome”. The changing seasons, and their effect on her vegetable garden, are likewise to be “overcome”. And her food itself, in a way, is about overcoming, too. Overcoming gluttony in all its guises and eating simple dishes to clarify mind, body and spirit.

Just as Kwan’s cooking eschews “overly spiced, overly sized” western cooking, so too does her temperament. In her simple grey robes, a gentle smile almost permanently fixed to her face, she is the antithesis of the ranting, narcissistic TV chefs of the modern celebrity era.

As we climb the few hundred metres to her hermitage, she points out thriving nutmeg, enormous mushrooms she’s been cultivating for months and a rare, 500-year-old Taengja tree which still produces oranges she uses in her recipes. There is literally no distance between Kwan and her ingredients: this is less farm to table, more garden to altar. “Flavours still surprise and excite me every day,” she says. “Each moment I am thinking about the cooking, the ingredients, the recipes.”

Kwan’s wooden home is, as you might expect, very basic. Here she cooks for two other nuns and occasionally some of the 50 or so monks based down the hill at the temple. As we talk, she prepares lunch. It’s already late in the day (we rose shortly before 5am for Buddhist meditation and chanting – a compulsory undertaking for temple guests), but Kwan flits energetically about her kitchen, robes fluttering like one of the butterflies in her garden.

Simple as it looks, the resulting food has an instant impact. As the small dishes arrive in swift succession, so too do the surprises: textures melt and harmonise while sharp, delicious flavours appear unannounced as we chew. “She has magic in her hands,” wonders the awestruck translator, her mouth full of pak choi and perilla seeds.

Our wooden bowls fill – marinated aubergine with bean powder pickled plum with zanthoxylum pumpkin stuffed with spicy tofu – each delicate and intricate in itself, yet part of an overall symphony of flavours effortlessly conducted by Kwan. Afterwards we feel neither full nor hungry and, if anything, decidedly lighter and more energetic than when we started. Culinary alchemy never tasted so good.

So where next for the philosopher chef? She’s already been flown to New York twice by Ripert, but for now she’s happy to stay in her hermitage, meditating for a minimum four hours each day. In the long term, she says she’d like to open a temple food restaurant of sorts. In the mid term, publish a recipe book. In the short term, simply tend to her beloved herbs and vegetables. “I have grown and cared for these ingredients, I have poured my energy into them,” she says. “That energy comes out when I prepare them in a meal.”

And perhaps that, above all, is the secret of the Philosopher Chef’s success. Jeong Kwan has mastered the art of cooking with love.