I’ve already discussed my love for food-related memoirs and cooking-school accounts, so I perhaps shouldn’t have included another book in that genre. But it’s my series so there’s going to be another one. I could probably had a half dozen without too much effort.
Flinn’s tale is probably my favorite cooking-school memoir, both because of her gift at recounting her experiences at the school, and because of the wonderful setting; Paris almost becomes a character of it’s own in the book.
I think I especially liked the book because Flinn seemed so relateable – her questions about what she’s doing with her life, and how she ended up where she was definitely sounded familiar. Her taking the opportunity to go after her childhood dream of studying at the Cordon Bleu is inspiring (and her struggles with the language made me admire her all the more; cooking school would be tough enough; adding onto that language barriers for classes and daily life? So hard.)
I never tried any of the recipes Flinn includes, although I’m sure I should have. An index makes it easy to find them again as they’re scattered throughout the text.
This is the funny and inspiring account of Kathleen Flinn’s struggle in a stew of hot-tempered chefs, competitive classmates, her own “wretchedly inadequate” French, and the basics of French cuisine. Flinn was a thirty-six-year-old middle manager trapped on the corporate ladder—until her boss eliminated her job. So she cashed in her savings and moved to Paris to pursue her lifelong dream of attending the venerable Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. Fans of Julie & Julia and the late Julia Child will be richly rewarded by this vibrant tale of self-discovery, transformation, and ultimately love.
Like me and can’t get enough tales of culinary school?
- Katherine Darling’s Under the Table: Saucy Tales from Culinary School mostly suffers from not being Flinn’s book, which I enjoyed a lot more.
- I wanted to love Spiced: A Pastry Chef’s True Stories of Trails by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the Kitchen, because while actually being a chef never appealed to me, being a pastry chef did (does?). It didn’t live up to my hopes for it, but I’m not sure if that’s not because I had them set too high.
- It’s out of print, but I loved Baking Boot Camp: Five Days of Basic Training at The Culinary Institute of America. Not a full culinary-school experience, it’s still set at the CIA, and focuses on baking. I have tried some of the recipes included in this one (it’s got tons of them) and everything I’ve tried has been delicious.
- I haven’t read it, but I met the author Jenna Weber (briefly) at Influence and am excited to try White Jacket Required: A Culinary Coming-of-Age Story. Cooking school, in Florida (where I grew up, so I’m hoping the location is described a bit), and she switched to the baking/pastry track. It sounds like it is so right up my alley I’m doing my best to not get my hopes up too high lest it be all but impossible for any book to live up to them.
To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads, go to the series page.
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