A Buddhist nun who has led the push for the globalization of South Korean temple cuisine has earned an invitation to the Berlin International Film Festival.
Jeong Kwan, who appeared in an episode from Season 3 of the Netflix food documentary series
“Chef’s Table”, plans to depart for Germany on Feb. 11 after being invited to the “Culinary Cinema” section at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival.
Produced and overseen by food documentary director David Gelb, “Chef’s Table” reflects thoughts on the food-making process and cuisine made by six renowned chefs from around the world, including Jeong Kwan.
The documentary came about after Jeong Kwan appeared in 2015 on a cooking program by New York-based star chef Eric Ripert to show the essence of South Korean temple food. A New York Times Style Magazine reporter who observed a preview of the temple food at a New York restaurant run by Ripert wrote a piece titled “Jeong Kwan, the Philosopher Chef.” After seeing the article, Gelb requested the nun’s appearance on “Chef‘s Table.”
In May 2016, the producers stayed at Cheonjin Hermitage of Jangseong’s Baekyang Temple in South Jeolla Province for 15 days around the Buddha‘s Birthday holiday to record South Korea’s traditional Buddhist culture, with a focus on Jeong Kwan‘s temple food.
“I wanted to share how the entire process of preparing food for Buddha’s Birthday - which includes cleaning the ground of enlightenment, making and hanging the lotus lanterns, holding early morning Buddhist services, and preparing, cooking, and serving ingredients raised in the garden - is a form of practice and meditation in itself,” said Jeong Kwan.
“I wanted to emphasize that South Korea’s temple food isn’t just a meal, it’s food you eat to gain realization, and that I am not a chef but a practitioner of cultivation,” she added.
Jeong Kwan received her precepts as a novice nun in 1975 and as a bhikkhu in 1981. She served as chief nun at Hongnyeon Hermitage and Mangwol and Sinheung Temples before going to create a temple food education center at Baekyang Temple’s Cheonjin Hermitage, where she currently provides lectures and training.
By Kim Kyung-ae, senior staff writer
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