Guest post by Artur.
While you are learning tenzo responsibilities, it's one of the hardest times in local life. When you are tenzo you spend about 16 hours per day in kitchen and maybe several minutes doing zazen or just sleeping. But most of the time you are free to choose what and how to cook. Is food vegetarian? No. Everything that is donated should be eaten, no matter what your views about food are. Meat or fish on the table is only once per month, everyday we eat a lot of rice =].
Here are some photos that show daily life of tenzo:
Komado is very small and "choosy" stove. You need to know how to arrange wood when burning it or it will need longer time to cook. Different wood burns differently. Some burn faster, some slower and that is why you need to check it almost every 15 minutes, because amount of wood that you can put inside is small. Also it becomes hot very fast if there is fire and becomes cold very fast if there is no fire. If we compare Latvian stove then local small komado is very complicated and looks non-efficient with this small size and very short times of fire.
By this word we usually mean table setup and ware we use. You need 30 minutes just to setup whole table setting without food and extra time to get food on the table. And yes - food should be on table several minutes before everyone starts eating. That is why last 10 minutes are spent in rush. At this time tenzo starts running like if his pants are burning.
All teachers are completely different. One week you learn how to cook potatoes or soja beans and next week that could be completely wrong =]. You should always try to cook in other people's manner.
While you are tenzo trainee you also need to spend 4 hours every day by working with others and here is what I have been working on while I was tenzo trainee:
Food & meals
All photos where made some seconds before meal was starting:
While I had some breaks for tea I secretly checkout out how tea trees are growing in tea garden:
P.S. We never made japanese food that westerners know. No sushi and any other food that you may know as japanese traditional home food. Also you can't find this kind of food in japanese restaraunts. It's somewhat same in Latvia - where can you buy just boiled potatoes, with salted cucumbers and some compot in one serve? I don't know any recipes - just preparing food in such a way, that it can be prepared and combine products how I feel they can be tasty.
P.S.S. And don't call me chef because I'm tenzo.