Long before they met each other, Radhanath and Kilimba honed their cooking skills while living at different west coast ashrams where they had to earn the privilege of entering the sacred kitchen. Radhanath later made his way to another ashram in Hawaii, and eventually opened his own restaurant in downtown Honolulu. Kilimba continued to nurture her culinary creativity and other artistic pursuits at international retreats and festivals.
As part of their devotional practice Radhanath and Kilimba also cultivated their musical talents, which brings us to part two of my evening. On the third Saturday of every month, both chefs exchange their aprons for instruments and sit on the stage floor along with a group of master musicians who join them for an hour-long kirtan jam. Guitar, bass, violin and percussion combine with the ethereal tones emanating from Kilimba’s harmonium to create a complex tapestry of sounds. But it’s the hypnotic and passionate drumming by Radhanath on his two-headed Indian mrdanga drum that really got under my skin and let me lose myself in the music.
Song sheets are passed out to help audience members repeat the Sanskrit chants. As someone whose vocal skills leave much to be desired, I usually shy away from public singing. Relief washed over me when I saw that some people were just listening, eyes closed while moving their bodies to the beat. I did dare to join in at times (quietly), spurred by the promise of those benefits to my brain and emotional well-being.
Most of the songs are about Krishna, but as Kilimba explained, many of the words and stories invoke universal themes relevant to people of all faiths. The same goes for the food. “Although the food is vegan, about 80% of our customers are omnivores,” said Kilimba. “After having lunch here, they may go home and eat a giant pork chop for dinner – and that’s totally fine.”
There are no prerequisites or judgments here, just an open invitation to enjoy some good food and music to help loosen the cobwebs in our bellies, hearts and minds.
Radiance Cuisine at Open Secret Bookstore
923 C Street
San Rafael, CA 94901
Phone: (415) 686-3442
Hours: Wed-Sat 12pm-7pm
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