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Sharper Your Knife The Less You Cry [Hardcover]

Kathleen Flinn
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 9 2007
In 2003, Kathleen Flinn was a thirty-six-year-old American in London who felt trapped in corporate middle management - until her boss eliminated her job while she was on vacation. Ignoring her mother's advice that she find another job immediately or "never get hired anywhere ever again," Flinn cleared out her savings and moved to Paris to pursue a dream - a diploma from the venerable Le Cordon Bleu cooking school.

But instead of being ushered into "a glamorous world of soufflés and foie gras," Flinn found herself struggling in a stew of hot-tempered chefs, competitive classmates, and her own "wretchedly inadequate" French. She trudged home traumatized by gutting fish, severing the heads off rabbits, and dropping an entire roast duck on the floor moments before having to present her plate to the presiding chef. One day she was even advised that her tronçons de colin pochés needed "a bit more salt" from the homeless man who sat near the school's entrance. As the story moves through the various classes, the basics of French cuisine--the ingredients, cooking techniques, wine, and more than two dozen recipes--are interwoven, but not every page is spent in the kitchen. Flinn also offers the experience of the vibrant sights and sounds of the markets, shops, and avenues of Paris. In time, Flinn triumphs in her battle with puff pastry, masters her sauces, and wins over the toughest of chefs. More importantly, though, she finds within herself the strength to pause on the usual journey and challenge a career-focused mind set and attempt a discovery of what really matters to her. She even comes to realize that the love of her life has been right in front of her the whole time. Fans of Julie & Julia, Cooking for Mr. Latte, and Eat, Pray, Love will be amused, inspired, and richly rewarded by this vibrant tale of romance, food, Paris, and chasing a life's dream.


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

When the author, an American journalist and software executive working in London, is sacked from her high-powered job, she enrolls as a student at the Cordon Bleu school in Paris. With limited cooking skills and grasp of the French language, she gamely attempts to master the school's challenging curriculum of traditional French cuisine. As if she didn't have enough on her plate eviscerating fish and knocking out pâtéà choux, she determines to write a book about her experience and gets married along the way. The result is a readable if sentimental chronicle of that year in Paris in which her love life is explored in great detail, dirty weekends and all, and cooking features as a metaphor for self-discovery. Some readers may feel disappointed that the narrator's encounters with French cookery remain largely confined to her lessons at the Cordon Bleu. On those rare occasions when she ventures into the food-obsessed city, the descriptions of meals are glancing at best. Although her struggles with the language and lack of knowledge about the culture lend comic elements to the story (once, trying to order a pizza over the phone, she said, Je suis une pizza—I am a pizza), they, too, constrain the author's culinary explorations. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

'A truly inspiring read.' LOOK MAGAZINE

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
By Dee Mae
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved the idea, that this girl reported on how it would be to go to The famous cordon Blue School. Her descriptions were entertaining, and sometimes I want a book that makes light of things, and makes me laugh. I never knew what was coming next, and the romance was delightful as well. I thought it was well written and left me wansting a bit more. that is a good sign for me!
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kathleen Flinn has done a fine job balancing her story about attending Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. She provides highlights of the lessons of cooking in an informative and memorable way, even including a Cordon Bleu recipe in each chapter. She offers plenty of humor about her failings and the foibles of her sometimes-eccentric chef-teachers and classmates. And she imparts unexpected yet welcome warmth and gentle pathos in writing about her relationship with her partner and living in Paris, just enough to be interesting. (She avoids the over-long syrupy prattle of Eat, Pray, Love.) Her book engages, teaches, and entertains from start to finish.
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4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts... Jan. 31 2012
By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
In this charming and pleasant book, Kathleen Flinn does a marvelous job of evoking Paris in all its glory and uniqueness. Furthermore, she captures the excitement, fear and wonderment of attending Le Cordon Bleu while comically describing the quirks and antics of her chef professors. When not attending classes, Flinn takes the reader through her search for living quarters, her outings with visiting friends and her quest to improve her modest French.

The 28 small chapters do become repetitive, however, mostly because each contains at least one forced metaphor: "timing is important in cooking just like it is in relationships. If you try to take the cake out of the oven -- or commit to your sweetheart forever -- too soon, you end up with a sorry mess." If she lost the prosaism, Flinn would become a truly excellent and intriguing writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School, Kathleen Flinn.

One of the joys of being a book lover is that people always can find me great birthday presents. Especially true since I have lots and lots of different interests. These presents have formed the kernels of dozens of collections, everything from mountaineering to nishigoi to Antarctica to book collecting itself.

A few years ago I attended a week long Boot Camp course at the Culinary Institute of America, and published my notes on the Internet. As a result, I have a collection of books on attending cooking schools, and this is one of the very best of the genre. Kathleen Flinn is a very experienced writer with a 1000 articles to her credit. She got fired from a job and decided to take a year off to attend Le Cordon Bleu Paris. I am absolutely delighted that she did so -- and then used her writing skills to put together this funny, informative, joyous love story -- for food, for learning, for Paris, for a partner. A wonderful read.

Very highly recommended.

Flinn has followed up with a one way blog on Amazon in which she reports on her recent activities, in particular her current book tour, including a recent interview on the Leonard Lopate show. She came across as a charming, down to earth, fascinating person on the radio. She also maintains an excellent web page, which includes some of her recipes from her book.

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Lapin ou poulet à la moutarde
Rabbit or chicken with mustard sauce

You can make this dish with either rabbit or bone-in chicken thighs. Rabbit is similar to the dark meat of chicken, but with a gamier flavor.
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