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The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears in Paris at the World's Most Famous Cooking School Paperback – 2 Sep 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (2 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143114131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143114130
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.6 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 834,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

I can never get enough of true stories about people who stop in the middle of their life's journey to ask, What do I really want?' and then have the guts to actually go get it. Kathleen Flinn's tale of chasing her ultimate dream makes for a really lovely book engaging, intelligent and surprisingly suspenseful.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat, Pray, Love"
"The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry" is an engaging story about a fantasy fulfilled. It's Under the Tuscan Sun goes to cooking school.
Michael Ruhlman, author of "The Soul of a Chef"
Although I can't cook my way out of a "sac de papier," I found this book a joy to read. It's is a compelling story about learning to cook and learning to love at the same time, told with humility, humor and passion.
Bill Radke, host of public radio's "Weekend America"
Kat Flynns vivid story of her adventures at Le Cordon Bleu Paris had me smiling page after page. It's about what you should always think about in the pressure behind a hot stove the pure romance of cooking.
Jerry Traunfeld, author of "The Herbfarm Cookbook" and "The Herbal Kitchen"

a An engaging story about a fantasy fulfilled. Itas "Under the Tuscan Sun" goes to cooking school.a
aMichael Ruhlman, author of "The Elements of Cooking" and "The Soul of a Chef"
a A joy to read . . . A compelling story about learning to cook and learning to love at the same time, told with humility, humor, and passion.a
aBill Radke, host of NPRas "Weekend America"
a This tasty offering . . . seems destined to earn an honored place on the crowded bookshelves of many foodie readers.a
a"Seattle Post-Intelligencer"

An engaging story about a fantasy fulfilled. It s "Under the Tuscan Sun" goes to cooking school.
Michael Ruhlman, author of "The Elements of Cooking" and "The Soul of a Chef"
A joy to read . . . A compelling story about learning to cook and learning to love at the same time, told with humility, humor, and passion.
Bill Radke, host of NPR s "Weekend America"
This tasty offering . . . seems destined to earn an honored place on the crowded bookshelves of many foodie readers.
"Seattle Post-Intelligencer"

? An engaging story about a fantasy fulfilled. It's "Under the Tuscan Sun" goes to cooking school.?
?Michael Ruhlman, author of "The Elements of Cooking" and "The Soul of a Chef"

? A joy to read . . . A compelling story about learning to cook and learning to love at the same time, told with humility, humor, and passion.?
?Bill Radke, host of NPR's "Weekend America"

? This tasty offering . . . seems destined to earn an honored place on the crowded bookshelves of many foodie readers.?
?"Seattle Post-Intelligencer"

About the Author

Kathleen Flinn has been a writer and journalist for nearly twenty years. Her work has appeared in the "Chicago Tribune," "Chicago Sun-Times," "USA Weekend," "Men s Fitness" and many other publications. She is a proud member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Author s Guild. She divides her time between Seattle and southwest Florida."


Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I appreciated that thge book was used when I bought it, but a page at the back was torn and a piece missing.
I was giving th ebook to my brother as a gift and was a bit disappointed with the torn page.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is wonderful for anyone interested in cooking. it is so well written, the book really flows and it is so dissappointing when you finish it!! You really feel you are in Paris and the atmosphere leaps out of the pages at you-A wonderful, wonderful book
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Format: Paperback
This is a charming and pleasant book. Kathleen Flinn does a marvelous job of evoking Paris in all its historical and 21st-century glory and uniqueness, and of evoking the wonderfully French speech of her chef professors at the Le Cordon Blue cooking school in Paris. It's easy to "feel yourself there" inside the culinary classrooms, experiencing all the excitement, fear, and curious wonderment that Kathleen, and all of the students, do. We also get to experience Paris through her various living quarters and through outings with visiting friends and fellow students. She also marvelously describes and evokes day-to-day life in Paris, especially for someone with only a modest, yet steadily improving, command of the French language.

The one thing I disliked about the book, and the reason I gave it 4 stars rather than 5, is the repetitive presence of forced metaphors. In each of the 28 short chapters, the reader finds at least one, and sometimes more than one, sophomoric metaphor. Things along the lines of "I realized 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." OK, I made that one up, but you get the idea. If Kathleen Flinn can rid herself of this writing flaw entirely (perhaps acquired in some journalism seminar?), she can become a truly excellent and intriguing writer.

Overall, however, I quite enjoyed this book and feel that I've had the experience of living and learning in Paris for several months without actually having done so. Ms. Flinn does such a good job at letting the reader "be there" that I actually teared up when the course of study was ending. Now that is the sign of good and personable writing!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 144 reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From one Alumni to another... 15 Jan. 2009
By L. Gasparro - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
While reading this book I had the ultimate thrill of reliving my own amazing experience as a culinary student (and graduate) at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris! Kathleen's story was like reading a Diary I should have written of my experience at this incredible institution. Details such as how overwhelming it is in Basic Cuisine to watch a Chef cook, listen to what he says, listen to the translation, write down every detail and jump between 3 different recipies at the same time was incredibly accurate. I laughed out loud at the Chef's constantly saying 'plus sel' because I thought I was the only one who never put in enought salt! Even though she changed the names of the Chefs, it was quite simple to figure out who they actually were...the handsome Chef was in fact quite the playboy who often went after the young, pretty girls, the singing Chef was always in a good mood and even though he didn't speak much english, made up for it by hugging you and kissing you on the cheek if he liked what you did!

Kathleen's details of fish guts, skinned rabbits, screaming Chef's, furious competition amongst students and drinking after school at the local Brasserie bring you into the 'real world' of the school

I, too, took 3 months off before going thru Superior Cuisine. It was difficult when I returned becaused I did not know anyone and most people already had their 'clicks' from Basic. I did have the pleasure of having Giada DeLaurentis in my class, she was shy, quite and very serious about cooking, but then we all were by that point.

To anyone who reads this book, please know that Kathleen tells the story from her heart, with insight, accuracy and amazing detail. I loved every word of it.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trials and triumphs in the world's most famous cooking school 14 Mar. 2008
By Bundt Lust - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry is a riveting memoir of one woman's journey through the hallowed kitchens of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Fresh from a corporate layoff in her London office, Kathleen Flinn chases her childhood dream to attend Le Cordon Bleu, encouraged by then-boyfriend Mike. Kathleen's love for cooking came as a result of necessity: after her father's early death from cancer when Kathleen was a teenager, she took over cooking for her family, eventually exploring the works of Julia Child and other cuisines. As an adult, her job in journalism allowed her to dabble in food writing and to indulge her love of restaurants, cooking, and food around the globe (including a brush with food poisoning from undercooked pig kidneys in China).

Kathleen's witty observations of Cordon Bleu demonstrations and classes are culled from 600 pages of personal notes, 120 hours of audio recordings, and selections from the 300-plus recipes in the Cordon Bleu curriculum, so readers are instantly immersed into the grueling world of elite chefdom, including less appetizing ventures such as gutting fish, removing tendons and glands from chickens and guinea fowl, beheading rabbits, and chopping live lobsters in half (this book is definitely NOT for the squeamish). However, such visions are tempered by sweeter notes, including puff pastry and delicate sauces described in detail.

Kathleen describes her new friends and classmates in detail, along with her continuing explorations of Paris and her struggles to improve her rusty French. One of the book's most touching moments involves a visit from her sister, who had planned on studying at the Sorbonne but gave up her place (and her dreams of studying in France) when their father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Small moments of everyday Parisian life provide a pleasant counterpart to break up the monotony of daily classes. Other domestic affairs include Kathleen's new relationship, a visit from annoying houseguests, and several medical emergencies.

The Sharper Your Knife includes many of the recipes alluded to in the text, and the back of the book thoughtfully includes a recipe index for faster retrieval. Traditional selections include Beef Braised in Red Wine, Chicken Cordon Bleu (which has no affiliation with the school), Rabbit or Chicken with Mustard Sauce, Chocolate Souffle, and Duck With Orange Sauce. Some of the author's personal favorites include Minestrone Soup, Gumbo from Paris, and Banana and Nutella Crepes.
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Transported Back to Paris Every Night 11 Oct. 2007
By Memoir lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I've found another page-turner. I'm the sort who puts the average modern book down after forcing myself through a couple chapters (for example, I loved the Italy section of "Eat, Pray" but skipped the India section for Bali), but this book so far does not disappoint. With each page of this book, not only do I feel the author's pain (how many times can Chef make her cry? Will the new romance develop?) but there are great tips and tricks for preparing food. I can't wait to try the chicken stock recipe. Kathleen is a naturally gifted writer with a great flair for words.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delicious! 9 Oct. 2007
By Colleen Moonen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
What's not to love?

Kathleen Flinn takes us along with her to Paris and the famed Le Cordon Bleu. The descriptions of the school, her fellow students, the Chefs and the dishes they prepare are charming. But be warned - some of the techniques and dishes are hard to stomach - such as cooking a rabbit.

The apartments, the city streets and markets, and the many people she meets enrich the story. It also gives a good view of the French and their customs. While briefly mentioned, she does talk about what it is like to be an American in Paris during Iraq. All of this is done so honestly and without agenda that it is refreshing and enlightening. I learned a lot from the Chef who gave a little history lesson with each dish he demonstrated.

This book has a quote on the jacket from the author of Eat, Pray, Love and I have seen some comparisons. Having read both books I must confess I much prefer Ms. Flinn's. She is warm, charming and open. While she is taking this great risk to follow her dream she embraces the experience and she grows and deepens. I only got 2/3 of the way thru Eat, Pray, Love because I found the author self-centered and immature. I felt she wasted her time and mine.

This book was a real treat!
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting memoir of cooking and Paris 26 April 2009
By She Reads and Dreams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I wasn't sure how I was going to go with this memoir of a journalist who spends a year at the "world's most famous cooking school" Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, but I was surprised at what a quick read it was.

Kat's adventures both in cooking and life through basic, intermediate and superior cuisine and the smattering of French life was compelling enough that I ran through the book in only a couple of sittings. Flinn is a good writer, but I found some of the metaphors between the food she was cooking and her life a bit contrived and trite (love is like a quiche, it has to be cooked at the right temperature and savoured with consideration - these are not Flinn's words, but she offered up similar cringe worthy metaphors) and I really did get sick of how hearing about how wonderful her husband is.

Flinn includes a lot of recipes in the book, but I have to say that French haute cuisine is not for me and I wasn't tempted to try any of the recipes. However, I did enjoy the book and I loved how Kat took a bad situation where she was retrenched from her job and turned it into the experience of a lifetime, the fulfilment of a long held dream and a completely new pathway in life. Leap and the net will appear!
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