Kitchen Manager

Employment Position

Kitchen Manager

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About Tara Mandala

Tara Mandala is a vibrant international Buddhist Community with groups around the world. It was established in 1993 by Lama Tsultrim Allione and her late husband, David Petit, to foster the development of innate wisdom for the benefit of all beings.  The hub of the Tara Mandala community is the 700-acre dharma center in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Through the center and the Satellite Sanghas, Tara Mandala offers a complete path of meditation practice, study, and deep retreat in the tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism. Tara Mandala is dedicated to bringing people to realization through Buddhist teachings. Tara Mandala is committed to fostering a welcoming atmosphere for all people to explore the teachings of the Buddha, and we are committed to cultivating a community that values diversity and inclusion.

 “Tara Mandala was created to bring people together to support each other, practice, and do retreat in order to reach realization. The second purpose of Tara Mandala is to be a temenos for the emergence of the sacred feminine, through the lens of Vajrayana, leading to the balance of genuine partnership between the masculine and feminine in our world.” – Lama Tsultrim Allione

Tara Mandala seeks candidates who are familiar with and live by Buddhist principles, including the five precepts and the 10 virtuous actions.  We strive to have an open heart, cultivate compassion and empathy for others whether co-workers, visitors, or retreatants.  We are here to serve the Dharma first and foremost.  Tara Mandala runs a predominantly organic vegetarian kitchen.  Tara Mandala Leadership Values can be reviewed here

This is a flexible full-time hourly, non-exempt, seasonal position. The estimated weekly work hours for this position are 25-40 hours as Kitchen Manager during retreat season. This includes an unpaid 30-minute lunch period and two 10-minute paid breaks. In addition, overtime may be required to fulfill this role on a week-by-week basis.

Job Summary

  • Prepares vegetarian meal(s) for Staff/Residents during the off season and Onsite Retreats during the retreat season
  • Ordering and Inventory of kitchen supplies, equipment, and food products
  • Scheduling, menu and recipe creation, cooking, and cleaning adherence to all public health code standards, training, inspections, and permit requirements
  • During Retreat Season managing and training new and temporary kitchen staff
  • Oversees karma yogi help in the kitchen and dining room during retreats


Overview of Duties and Areas of Oversight

  • The Kitchen Manager/Head Cook of Tara Mandala oversees a small community and commercial kitchen serving up to three, primarily organic vegetarian meals and a snack each day during formal onsite retreats. 
  • As Head Cook, serves approximately 15 staff members during non-retreat season with lunch 5 days a week and some soups/stews for dinner.  Breakfast, weekends, and some evenings are self-serve with leftovers or residents cook for themselves.
  • During retreats meals are prepared for  50 to 100 or more participants during retreat season in a buffet style. Tara Mandala is a predominantly an organic vegetarian kitchen.  
  • Responsible for all kitchen functions including scheduling, food purchasing, menu creation, recipe creation, cooking  and kitchen clean up
  • Adherence to all Tara Mandala policies and Health Code standards, general sanitation, and cleanliness.  
  • Training employees and temporary help in methods of cooking, preparation, presentation, and cleanliness.
  • Responsible for budgeting and cost control of food and supplies working with Operations Director
  • Responsible for the kitchen and dining room upholding Tara Mandala’s vision and mission while supervising a staff consisting of paid staff and program participants (who may have no professional kitchen experience).
  • The Kitchen Manager/Head Cook reports directly to the Operations Director. 


Day to Day Responsibilities

(if different than duties with specific requirements)

  • Ensures that all food and products are consistently prepared and served according to the existing or created recipes.
  • Prepares a variety of organic vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and other food items using broilers, ovens, grills, and a variety of other kitchen equipment.  We gather data on food preferences and restrictions from staff and retreatants and do our best to accommodate them, within reason.
  • Assumes 100% responsibility for quality of meals and products served.
  • Creates weekly menus, daily prep lists and is responsible for dish recipes.
  • Knows and complies consistently with recipes, cooking methods, quality standards and kitchen rules, policies. and procedures.
  • Stocks and maintains sufficient levels of food products while also preventing excessive waste.
  • Receives all food orders, checks quantities and qualities, and notes any items not acceptable and/or not delivered, so credits can be requested of vendors. 
  • Maintains a clean and sanitary work-station area including tables, shelves, grills, broilers, sauté burners, convection oven, refrigeration equipment, and entire dining room area.
  • Handles, stores, and rotates all products properly following FIFO standards.
  • Responsible for food prep alongside other cooks during retreat season.
  • Opens, closes, and cleans the kitchen properly and follows checklists.
  • Schedules and holds weekly meetings with kitchen staff during retreat season.
  • Oversees community and retreatant  dining experiences working with staff to improve whenever possible.
  • Prepares all food for ritual events, tsogs, and sometimes with little notice.
  • Participates as a member of the community in attending practice and special events when possible.


Required Education, Skills & Competencies

  • Minimum of three years of kitchen management and cooking  experience, retreat cooking, managing kitchens or teams of similar size, scope, and complexity.
  • Leadership skills, including the capacity to remain compassionate and equanimous under pressure.
  • Ability to adapt to and manage through uncertainty and be flexible.
  • Ability to inspire and motivate others, as well as collaborate and build relationships effectively.
  • Excellent verbal communication skills and good writing skills.
  • Highly developed interpersonal skills, including the ability to hear and appreciate other points of view, including those of a diverse and cross-cultural nature.
  • Attentive to both the details and big picture perspectives needed to ensure the day-to-day as well as long-term operational success of Tara Mandala. 
  • Highly organized and resourceful with ability to prioritize, problem solve, and take initiative. 
  • Adept in the Google Suite including emails and calendars, and  use Excel, MS Office, and web-interface systems a plus.  
  • Understanding of budgeting processes and the ability to manage department budget and adhere to cost control measures.
  • Must be able to work non-traditional hours including evenings, weekends, and holidays during retreat season and occasionally during the off season.
  • Dedicated Buddhist practice and connection to the lineages at Tara Mandala as well as an excitement about being part of emerging Dharma in the West is preferred.
  • Attends monthly community council – talking circles.
  • When possible and not working, participates in  community practices, ceremonies, and events to promote and ensure staff and community involvement in overall vision and mission of Tara Mandala
  • Upholds Tara Mandala Leadership Values and Code of Conduct, and acts as a role model for residents.


Personal Characteristics

  • Organizational skills
  • Empathy and Compassion
  • Independent, Problem solving and Responsible
  • Confidentiality, Integrity, Honest and Trustworthy
  • Dependable and Flexible

Compensation, Benefits and Other Job Requirements

  • This is a full-time, hourly residential, and year around position based at Tara Mandala Retreat Center in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
  • Includes 10 Paid Time Off days per year to be taken during non-retreat season, except in cases of emergency.
  • The position includes on-site housing and meals (room and board).
  • After one-year, free attendance at one 5-day retreat onsite and annual two-week Losar personal retreat.

For residential positions:  Tara Mandala’s Residential Agreement and  Code of Conduct and Ethics is available for review here.

Other Duties: This job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee. Other duties, responsibilities and activities may change or be assigned at any time as needed by the organization.

Tara Mandala is an equal opportunity employer and seeks diversity with respect to race, religion, ethnicity, culture, gender, age, sexual orientation, and physical abilities. 

Click here to apply »