Lead Vegetarian Cook
Nyingma Institute

Sunset view from the front porch of the Nyingma Institute overlooking the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge

Lead Vegetarian Cook

Nyingma Institute
Berkeley, California

Creative, meaningful cooking for like-minded people.

$600.00 / month
Start Date:

Creative, meaningful cooking for like-minded people

Nyingma Institute, Berkeley, CA

We are looking for an enthusiastic, creative and qualified chef experienced in vegetarian cuisine to run a busy kitchen along with kitchen volunteer team at our all-volunteer retreat center.

You must have an interest in Buddhism, living in community, and participating in our introductory program for full-time residents, which is geared towards cultivating awareness and altruism as part of work and everyday life.

We offer a challenging and enriching work-study environment, where working to benefit others is the key to unlocking your inner potential.


This opportunity includes:

  • Housing in a community setting, in the foothills of Berkeley with a spectacular view

  • Vegetarian meals, created with organic ingredients when possible

  • Classes and retreats on meditation, Tibetan yoga, Tibetan Buddhist studies, and more

  • Daily meditation and practices

  • Opportunity to transform work into a meaningful practice that leads to inner development and benefits others

Responsibilities include:

  • Cooking vegetarian meals for groups

  • Managing a busy kitchen

  • Planning and setting menus

  • Ordering, shopping for and monitoring supplies

Selection criteria:

  • Experience with vegetarian cuisine

  • Creative and nutritious meals suitable for a high-quality retreat center

  • Open-minded, self-reflective and ready to learn and engage deeply on inner and outer levels

  • You do not need to be Buddhist, but we’re looking for individuals who are open, respectful, and curious

  • Minimum commitment is 6 months

  • We are a drug-free community, and also require that alcohol and meat not be brought onto the premises

  • Couples are welcome, no pets allowed

This is a position with a full-time residential program, called the Mandala Training Program.

Please visit www.mandalatraining.org for full details about the program.

For the chef position, we are willing to be flexible about your engagement with the program.

We have learned through experience that the chef position is an exception to the rule given its demands and the expertise required for high caliber meals. In general, our volunteers work 6-days a week with a living reimbursement of $150/month. For the chef, we ask for 36 hrs/week with a living reimbursement stipend of approximately $600/month.

Our kitchen serves buffet-style lunch and dinner Mon-Fri, with lunch only on Saturdays. The average number of retreatants and staff is approximately 15-20 per meal.

About our organization

The Tibetan Nyingma Institute in Berkeley, California, was founded by a Tibetan lama, Tarthang Rinpoche, in 1972.  Like the Dalai Lama in 1959, Tarthang Rinpoche was one of 100,000 Tibetan refugees who fled the communist invasion and settled in exile in India. He was one of the first Tibetan lamas to come to the US, arriving in Berkeley in 1969 with a dream to preserve the gravely endangered culture of Tibet.  Over the years, Tarthang Rinpoche created a network of organizations dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture as well as bringing the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism to the west.

At the heart of his activities is the Yeshe De Text Preservation Project, which is responsible for one of the largest free distributions of texts in history, and currently, in the world. Over 4 million ancient sacred text reproductions, which are printed by volunteers in Northern California, have reached over 3,300 Tibetan centers of learning in exile across India, Nepal, and Bhutan. By replenishing libraries and providing wider access to texts on a large scale, the hope has been to save Tibet’s culture and preserve its vitality, so that future generations can benefit from this ancient wisdom. 

The books are distributed each year in India during the World Peace Ceremony, which is held at the Mahabodhi temple where the Bodhi Tree still stands, marking the place of the Buddha’s enlightenment. Every year, over 10,000 monks, nuns, lamas and lay pilgrims come together from all over the Himalayan region to offer unceasing prayers for world peace. During this 10-day ceremony, our volunteers distribute these ancient sacred texts, which are the lifeblood of Tibetan culture, to individuals and monasteries, giving them the gift of their priceless heritage. These books contain the Buddha’s teachings on wisdom and compassion and can be traced back 2,500 years.

Nyingma Institute supports these efforts and is a portal to these activities. All of our organizations are volunteer-based, from the Deans to the staff and teachers, and this major project has been possible only through the steady efforts of a small group of dedicated students who have worked as full-time volunteers for almost 50 years, as well as many others who have contributed their efforts through the years. We would not be able to continue without the willingness of individuals like you to participate and make a contribution by offering your time and energy.

Current website is www.nyingmainstitute.org, new (really nice!) website will be released April 30, 2017.

How to Apply

Please apply online.