Review and giveaway: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

Kathleen Flinn’s book The Kitchen Counter Cooking School opens with this:

While in the supermarket one day, Flinn (a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu), spots a woman loading her cart with processed food. Flinn follows the woman around the store until they reach the meat counter, where she stops the woman from buying pre-cut chicken breasts in favor of asking the butcher to but up a whole chicken for her. Flinn goes on to tell the woman how to cook and even goes so far as to persuade the shopper — whose name Flinn never even learns — to replace nearly all of the processed foods in her cart with whole ingredient alternatives.

Did you cringe a little reading that? Because, man, I sure did. Like, Oh jesus seriously, some foodier-than-thou lady swoops in and improves the lives of a bunch of  poor know-nothings? Barrrrf. 

Well. I assure you I could not have been more wrong.

In fact, this memoir turned out to be an unusual blend of thoughtful and practical. Flinn makes a point of getting out of what she calls the “foodie bubble” (at which point I was pretty much won over) and gets nine women together, all of whom are very uncomfortable in the kitchen: they all feel don’t have time/money/skills to cook from scratch.

Each chapter details how the women got together for one of the kitchen’s lessons on how to make something — how to roast a chicken, etc. — and closes with an actual recipe for what was just made. (I admit I haven’t made any of the recipes yet, BUT the chapter on knife skills has radically changed the way I hold and use a chef’s knife.)

Along the way, Flinn realizes she’s not immune to some of the traps her students fall into (like a fridge full of expiring food) but her personal recollections manage to never feel tacked on or patronizing, like look at me, I’m just like you! Overall, it was just an unexpectedly fun read and I really recommend it.

With that in mind, I’m giving away a copy! To enter to win, all you have to do is become a fan of on Facebook and I’ll draw a winner in two weeks’ time (8 Nov 2011). Good luck! Congrats to Tina T. of Palm Coast, FL for winning this! Hope you enjoy it!


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3 thoughts on “Review and giveaway: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

  1. Hmm… I read Flinn’s other book, “The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry,” about her time at Le Cordon Bleu, and I was kind of “meh” about it. It also included a related recipe at the end of each chapter, which I find kind of awkward. Might give this one a try if I see it at the library, though.

    1. I can see that — there’s a chapter or two where Flinn does something outside the cooking classes (e.g. she goes on a cruise at one point) and the recipes for those chapters feel kind of tacked on, but the chapter-end recipe works otherwise because it’s basically a recap of what everyone just learned. Like, there’s a chapter where everyone learns to make alfredo sauce and it closes with an actual recipe to follow.

  2. Sounds like a good book, but I’m not on fb, so I’ve just popped on over to my library’s website & put it on hold. Then, if it’s so awesome I _need_ it, I can add it to my Xmas wish list! :)

    Thanks for the recommendation, btw – I tend to get stuck in reading ruts, so it’s nice to hear about something new I’d probably not have found otherwise.

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