"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all."
---Harriet Van Horne
Kathleen Flinn was a big-time American executive for a travel-focused publishing firm in London. She was living the life and the corporate world was her oyster. One day, it all came to an abrupt halt when she arrived at the office to learn she had been fired. Unsure of what to do next, her boyfriend suggests she pursues a childhood dream she once confided to him: to go through the hallowed halls of Le Cordon Bleu, Paris' premiere cooking school, the one that gave us Julia Child and become a classically trained French Chef.
Flinn applies and is miraculously accepted. What follows is the subject The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears in Paris at the World's Most Famous Cooking School of a slice of adventure that follows her trials and tribulations, burning, slicing, frying and exploding meals, crying and laughing with friends and falling in love. I didn't like this book when I first started it, but decided to stick with it for a bit, and I am very glad I did. Her style settles in, and I really came to like the characters she fleshes out, most notably the chefs.
When Flinn begins at Le Cordon Bleu, she is assured by the chefs that she is wasting her time, and they cannot fathom why she is there. But, she stays with it, learning, growing and fighting for that little space at the kitchen prep table that becomes hers. Flinn uses strong storytelling to mix life and cooking, and like any memorable meal, the two become intertwined in a way that makes them inseparable, like the meals we share with friends and family around the kitchen with a glass of wine.
Moreover, in this age of people being laid off, rightsized, downsized and otherwise pulled away from what we thought was our birthright (work hard and The Company will reward you, right?) while realizing it was never more than smoke and mirrors; in a time when we're finding out that The Wizard is one slick lever-pull away from relieving us all of our own American Dreams, Flinn reminds us that before THAT dream, we had another one: our childhood dream.
And more importantly, that there is still time to follow it....