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Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School

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Overview

A delightful true story of food, Paris, and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream

In 2003, Kathleen Flinn, a thirty-six-year-old American living and working in London, returned from vacation to find that her corporate job had been eliminated. Ignoring her mother's advice that she get another job immediately or "never get hired anywhere ever again," Flinn instead cleared out her savings and moved to Paris to pursue a dream-a diploma from the ...
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Overview

A delightful true story of food, Paris, and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream

In 2003, Kathleen Flinn, a thirty-six-year-old American living and working in London, returned from vacation to find that her corporate job had been eliminated. Ignoring her mother's advice that she get another job immediately or "never get hired anywhere ever again," Flinn instead cleared out her savings and moved to Paris to pursue a dream-a diploma from the famed Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry is the touching and remarkably funny account of Flinn's transformation as she moves through the school's intense program and falls deeply in love along the way. Flinn interweaves more than two dozen recipes with a unique look inside Le Cordon Bleu amid battles with demanding chefs, competitive classmates, and her "wretchedly inadequate" French. Flinn offers a vibrant portrait of Paris, one in which the sights and sounds of the city's street markets and purveyors come alive in rich detail. The ultimate wish fulfillment book, her story is a true testament to pursuing a dream. Fans of Julie & Julia, Almost French, and Eat, Pray, Love will be amused, inspired, and richly rewarded by this seductive tale of romance, Paris, and French food.
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Editorial Reviews

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 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
An American expatriate follows her dream to study at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. When 36-year-old software executive Flinn got fired in 2003, she was faced with a choice: She could look for another job or pursue her passion. Actually, it's two passions: cooking, and a man. While a corporate wage-slave, she feared making a commitment to Mike back in Seattle. Now unemployed, single and with no country to call home, nothing held her back. She called Mike, drained her savings, moved with him to Paris and started classes. Part memoir, part insider's look at the famed culinary institute where the world's elite chefs have been trained in the art of French haute cuisine, the text takes the form of chronological chapters interweaving lessons learned at the school with lessons learned about life. We meet characters both eccentric and multicultural, from the seemingly bipolar Gray Chef to a roster of far-flung classmates. The range of students from Europe, America, South America, Asia and the Middle East makes it apparent that French cuisine is now global, but Flinn merely touches on that theme. It's not the only potentially fascinating topic she scants; she barely seems to notice that Paris now competes with London, formerly the butt of many jokes about bad food, as the home of superlative dining. Instead, Flinn attempts to use cooking as a life metaphor, a dicey tactic when your personal revelations mostly resemble outtakes from Sex and the City. The book is best when she sticks to cooking, France's culinary history, diverse regional traditions and the challenges of meeting the impeccable standards of Le Cordon Bleu's demanding chefs. A fascinating look inside a famed elite institution, unnecessarilygarnished with lackluster autobiography. Agent: Larry Weissman/Larry Weissman, LLC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781615557769
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/4/2007
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathleen Flinn

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.

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.

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Table of Contents


Author's Note     xiii
Prologue: This Is Not for Pretend     1
Basic Cuisine     5
Life Is Not a Dress Rehearsal     7
Lost in Translation     17
Culinary Boot Camp     25
Taking Stock     35
Memoirs of a Quiche     46
La Vie en Rose     56
No Bones About It     66
Splitting Hares     74
The Souffle Also Rises     83
As the Vegetables Turn     92
Final Exam-Basic     103
Intermediate Cuisine     113
Class Break: Spain     115
C'est la Vie, C'est la Guerre     118
A Week in Provence     128
Rites of Passage     134
The Silence of the Lamb     143
"I Am a Pizza for Kathleen"     150
A Sauce Thicker Than Blood     158
La Catastrophe Americaine     164
Bon Travail     171
Final exam-Intermediate     177
Superior Cuisine     183
Class Break: Normandy, then America     185
Back in Bleu     189
Great Expectations     202
Gods, Monsters, and Slaves     211
La Danse     220
Bye-bye, Lobster     231
I Didn't Always Hate My Job     243
An American Hospital in Paris     249
Final Exam-Superior     259
Epilogue: Thanksgiving in Paris     271
Extra Recipes     275
Acknowledgments     279
Selected Bibliography     281
Index of Recipes     283
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Unexpectedly fun to read!

    This book was a lot of fun to read! I found this one while browsing the foodie section of my local library. The dust jacket description hooked me and I borrowed it. The true story of one womans experience at the worlds most famous culinary school in Paris.
    Kathleen Flinn decides to attend culinary school in Paris, a life-long dream, after being laid off from her overseas job in London. The author takes us along on her true life journey at Le Cordon Bleu school in Paris. He story is light hearted, funny and inspriing. Each chapter is capped off with wonderful recipies of varing degrees each related to the chapter they finish.
    Such a wonder fulss story to read. I blew threw this book in no time. So good that I purchased a copy for my wife to read also. Not to mention to have a copy around the house for the recipies since I had borrowed it from the library anyway.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2010

    You have to be into it

    Her personal story is a little slow, but I really enjoy cooking & want to go to this school so I enjoyed it inspite of that. It also contains recipes at the end of the chapters so I LOVE that.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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