It was in his best movie, Under Seige, that Steven Segal played a lowly Navy cook who comes out of his shell just enough to kick the ass of Tommy Lee Jones and his merry band of terrorists. This comes to mind because Edward Espe Brown, the chef and Zen priest at the heart of Dorris Dorrie's new documentary, How to Cook Your Life, bears more than a striking resemblance to the one-time action star. But instead of kicking ass, Brown takes out his frustrations (Zen priests, it turns out, have their fair share) on thick wads of dough. Author of the bread bible The Tassajara Recipe Book, Brown is one of those dudes who has an intimate connection with what ends up on his plate, a trait that he shares with the audience and the crunchy NPR types who flock to his weekend workshops. He's a character and the food theory is pretty interesting, though the film drags when it isn't focused on the kitchen. Still, it's nutritious—in the way of the spiritual gourmand—but some will find it thin, more vegetable broth than beef stew.
How to Cook Your Life opens Dec. 7 at Hillcrest Cinemas.