In Buddha’s Kitchen: Cooking, Being Cooked, and Other Adventures in a Meditation Center is the memoir of author Kimberley Snow, which shares about her time spent at a Tibetan Buddhist Retreat Center. It is a wonderful light and funny read that infuses deep wisdom amidst real, human challenges. The review below shares more about this book and what I took away from it.

About the Author

In Buddha’s Kitchen: Cooking, Being Cooked, and Other Adventures in a Meditation Center was written by Kimberley Snow and published back in 2003.

Kimberley Snow grew up in Greenwood, South Carolina. Her diverse career background was rooted both in academia as a professor, and in kitchens as a chef. She worked her way through graduate school as a chef, eventually becoming executive chef at the Kentucky Horse Center in Lexington, Ky. After completing a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky, she took a job teaching in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she helped to found the Women’s Studies Program.

In 1991, Kimberley and her husband, the poet Barry Spacks, moved to a Tibetan Buddhist community in Northern California where she spent the next six years studying Dzogchen with Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, working in the kitchen, setting up a website for the community, and editing dharma books.

Kimberley is also the author of several other books (see bottom of review for direct links), including Writing Yourself Home: A Woman’s Guided Journey of Self Discovery, Keys to the Open Gate: A Woman’s Spirituality Sourcebook, and It Changes.

Kimberley has a new novel, called “It Changes” coming out in November 2011. For more information on Kimberley and her work, please visit:

Book Content & Personal Commentary

In the fall of 2010, I participated in a 10 day silent Vipassana Retreat. A few months later, having heard about this new experience in my life, a friend lent me one of her books; one that she thought I would enjoy given the new experience. As it turned out, it was Kimberley’s In Buddha’s Kitchen: Cooking, Being Cooked, and Other Adventures in a Meditation Center, and it was indeed a timely and enjoyable read for me.

In Buddha’s Kitchen chronicles the adventures, experiences and memories of the author, while working in a kitchen during her stay at a Tibetan Buddhist retreat. What began as a month long trial, turned into a several year experience. Throughout the book, the reader gets glimpses into the present journey of the author, as well as the past that has shaped the path of her ending up at a Buddhist retreat center. Through it all we get to share in all of the challenges, all of the ups and downs, gaining more appreciation for the intricate personal journeys of evolution we each go through.

The book is a nice, light read in both quantity and quality, coming in at just over 180 pages. I found it to be a wonderful book to just unwind with and step into another human beings’ perspective. I think it can be very enjoyable for those who are interested in spiritual matters, but perhaps want a break from the heavier, educational-like non-fiction type of books. It can make for a pleasant afternoon experience, or be split up over several short reading sessions.

That was the state we all aimed at, that clear light of simply feeling what we were feeling without resistance, without going off on mental trips about it.

Kimberley Snow, In Buddha’s Kitchen

In Buddha’s Kitchen there is a realness of life presented. There is poetry and there is foul language. Nothing is glossed over or polished. It expands one’s perspective and shines light on some of the biases one may have about Buddhism or Buddhist-like retreat centers. Often the Western prejudice is that all retreats are solemn, or silent, filled with rituals where people display some saintly, robotic behavior. Well, as Kimberley shows us, things are not necessarily like that at all. The retreat center Kimberley is at seems to be bustling with all sorts of life, exposing all of the different human temperaments.

Untying the knots of anger is just like making a complicated meal. Even when one understands all of the techniques, a person still has to work through the entire process. You can’t just think the meal onto the table.

Kimberley Snow, In Buddha’s Kitchen

What I liked the most about the book, was the association of life journeys with food preparation. Being someone who enjoys food preparation, getting up close and personal with real food ingredients and releasing one’s creative juices, I related to many of the things one can learn in the kitchen, any kitchen, not just a Buddhist one. When fully engaged, it gives us a chance to be highly present, work through a journey and enjoy the final results of our efforts. How present and passionate one is during food preparation, has a direct effect on how the meals will turn out. I see this as a huge parallel to our life in general. The more conscious and connected we are in all of our life choices, the more favorable the outcomes are. When we are unconscious, going through life rather detached, thinking that things happen to us, we often get unpleasant results that cause all sorts of hardships.

I think most women who are anywhere from their late 20’s on and who are on any sort of self-discovery journey will definitely enjoy this book. And I say women, as it was written from a woman’s perspective and includes a lot references that females will appreciate. This in no way means that men shouldn’t read the book, or would not enjoy it. It all depends on what resonates with you. The book will evoke laughter, just as it will evoke tears. This is what in the end really stood out for me after reading this book, its ability to embody the fullness and realness of the human condition.

Cooking is a process that is irreversible. It’s too late for me to go back to being raw, too late to do anything but continue.

Kimberley Snow, In Buddha’s Kitchen

The book can be found in some libraries and used book stores, as well as (see below).

Books by Kimberley Snow