Michael Ruhlman, the gourmand and talented nonfiction writer (Making of a Chef and House: A Memoir among others) wrote a quote on the back cover of Kathleen Flinn’s The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School, calling this culinary memoir, “Under the Tuscan Sun goes to cooking school”. Anyone who enjoys culinary or travel memoirs should pick this one up.
After being dismissed from her executive software job in London, Flinn, upon the advice of her boyfriend, put her life on hold, took a leap of faith and went off to fulfill a lifelong dream, moving to Paris to enroll in the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School. Her book depicts in detail what it is like to go through this intimidating and grueling cooking course. Seeing first hand how intense the program is will give you new respect for the culinary arts profession. Making the perfect stock, boning a chicken or a salmon and assembling the perfect meal are all deliciously described by Flinn.
She introduces the various chef instructors at the school and vividly portrays their classes, translating their French commands into English — which is charming and most helpful for those of us who haven’t taken a French class since high school or college. Flinn’s romantic life also blossomed as her boyfriend came to live with her. The engaging descriptions of her life in Paris and her developing relationship with Miki add as much to her tale as her obvious passion for her new found skills. These ingredients help create a well written culinary memoir which includes a perfect balance of travel, good food and a strong sense of place.