Whenever I get asked an opinion about going to cooking school, I always mention two books that would give one an idea of what it is like: Michael Ruhlman’s The Making of a Chef and Kathleen Flinn’s The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry.
With all the grandeur of celebrity chefs on the Food Network, a lot of people are getting the wrong perception of what it takes real chefs to get where they are now. I had lofty notions too about going to cooking school full-time but after reading the above 2 books, I realized that I might not have the stamina and dedication to withstand the grueling schedule (nor do I have the money.)
I was sent the new paperback version of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry by its publisher, Penguin Books. My original hardback version was loaned to a friend whose kid was interested in going to cooking school.
Kathleen Flinn’s book is one of those culinary memoirs (the other being Julia Child’s My Life in France) I love to read over and over. Her tales about her time in the kitchen of the famous Le Cordon Bleu in France are at the same time gripping and funny. But there are also tears. And you feel extremely sympathetic to her and want to scream at the Chef instructor – who told Kathleen that her sauce was “C’est Horrible” and that she was wasting her time – to give the girl a break! But such is the reality of culinary training. If you can’t take the heat, you get out. There will be roast ducks dropped on the floor and cut or burned fingers, but in the end you realize what you are working so hard for. You also get a peek at life in vibrant Paris and her relationship with the very supportive man in her life – Mike. I don’t want to reveal too much of the book. Suffice to say, that even if I may never get the chance to spend months going to a culinary institute, I can still follow a dream. Kathleen Flinn’s book has been one of my inspirations when I started Petites Bouchées.
As I juggle my corporate life and pastry business, I know in the end I have to choose between the two of them. But I already know which one will make me happy and fulfilled.
The paperback version of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry is coming out September 2, 2008. I love the cover of this book! A lone woman walking through a path lined with trees…quite invoking of the journey she was about to begin (or had taken).