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The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks
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The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  2,359 ratings  ·  481 reviews
The author of The Sharper Your Knife tells the inspiring story of how she helped nine others find their inner cook.

After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, writer Kathleen Flinn returned with no idea what to do next, until one day at a supermarket she watched a woman loading her cart with ultraprocessed foods. Flinn's "chefternal" instinct kicked in: she persuaded...more
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published September 29th 2011 by Viking Adult
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Community Reviews

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Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I grew up in the sixties when there was a strong movement toward moving back to natural foods. I had a mom who was a stay-at-home mother and prepared a big dinner ever night for us. When I had a family of my own, I prepared dinner every night, as my mother had modeled for me. Gradually, however, after I went back to work fulltime, I found it increasingly difficult to cook a meal every evening. My husband and I fell into lazy habits, popping in a frozen pizza one night and stopping by Subway for...more
Laura
This book moved me more than much of the fiction I've read in the past few years. It touched a chord that runs deep in me, the broken record that plays over and over, telling me I'm useless and a total failure in the kitchen.

I was recently diagnosed with a gluten, dairy and corn intolerance. That doesn't sound like much of a big deal, but gluten and/or corn are found in about 90% of the food available in most supermarkets (typically in food additives whose names give shoppers no clue that's what...more
Dawn
First: I'll say this. I cook. I generally spend more time on the outer aisles of the supermarket than on the center ones. I already knew what braise means, and have done it fairly often. I make my own bread. Anyone looking at my blog knows this. I read and I cook and I have done both pretty much as far back as I can remember.

This book however is not for people like me.

This book is for that friend who is afraid of her own kitchen but wont admit it.

We all have them. Her kitchen is always pristi...more
Cindy Hudson
I already like to cook, and most of the time I think I do a pretty good job whipping up things in the kitchen. So when I started to read The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Flinn, I thought I would enjoy her story but not find much to learn about cooking. From the first chapter, I knew I was wrong.

Flinn’s narrative about working with nine women who didn’t feel comfortable in the kitchen is fascinating...more
UniquelyMoi ... So I Can Shine...
Normally, I do not stalk people in grocery stores.
I confess to the occasional practice of supermarket voyeurism.
But who doesn’t sometimes notice the curious collections of fellow shoppers, then contemplate what they may reveal about them?

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School is not your typical cookbook, and not at all what I expected. It took me some time to get into the memoir-esque beginning where we learn what led Kathleen Flinn to decide to teach cooking and technique to the everyday chef –...more
Barbara
I LOVED this book! It really can change the way you look at food and cooking. This is a memoir, but with so much more to offer. Kathleen Flinn takes 9 self-professed non-cooks and teaches them the basics of cooking and eating. More whole foods, less processed junk.

Most of us are time-crunched and looking for short-cuts for everything. This book shows that cooking whole foods from scratch is far better for you, and really doesn't take anymore time than throwing together a mix from a box, not to...more
Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
I did not really care for this author's other book so much that I almost took this one back to the library without even reading it. I am so glad something changed my mind. I LOVED LOVED it.

Ms. Flinn does a volunteer class of nine people that have trouble with cooking. She first goes to their houses and peeks in their cabinets (she doesn't come off as judgemental). She listens to their stories and of course I'm a food story junkie so I'm all in love with it.The author comes across as someone who...more
Adrienne Furness
Mar 09, 2012 Adrienne Furness added it
Shelves: food
This book combines two of my favorite genres: books about food and books written by people who take on and document a weird project. Fun to read, and I picked up some tips that I'm going to try in my own kitchen.
Kate  Maxwell
or - Memoirs from a Cooking Experiment.

This book was well-written, and perfect for anyone who has some knowledge of how to maneuver around a kitchen, not for the complete novice. As mentioned in the summary, Kathleen Flinn, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, that famed cooking school in Paris, takes nine volunteers to help them become cooks in their own homes. What ensues are lessons that range from the proper way to use a knife, how to not be afraid of vegetables, and learning that price can matter...more
Jackie
I loved this book. At first I was afraid it was going to be condescending since the author is a Cordon Bleu trained chef. I couldn't have been more wrong. This was actually one of the most inspiring books I've read in a very long time.

The idea for this book started when Flinn was grocery shopping and noticed the truly horrible, processed, non-food food in a stranger's cart. She started up a conversation with the woman and ended up taking her around the store to get the "real" version of all the...more
Nancy
Sep 22, 2011 Nancy added it
Kathleen begins the book by stalking a woman in the grocery store. Maybe a little creepy but her heart is pure. She notices a woman with an inordinate amount of boxed and canned goods. Having recently graduated from the prestigious culinary arts institute in France, she could not, in good conscience, allow this woman to believe MSG and high doses of sodium were part of the food pyramid. She intervened. She took the woman to the butcher and asked him to demonstrate how to debone a whole chicken....more
Kathy
Who doesn't look at the shopping cart contents of that person in front of you in line. Either on a conscious or subconscious level, a judgement can be made of the individual who "owns" the cart. This book dares you to look at your own cart. What does the person next in line think of you. I lived in France for a few years and learned what some of my French colleagues thought of our supermarkets....they concluded our markets had very little "real" food (and not nearly enough yogurt). The Kitchen C...more
Mari
A delightful book, filled with stories and laughter. Have you ever wondered if someone is watching you grocery shop? What are you putting in your cart?

I learned so much and think I may have just put a ban on Parmesan cheese from entering my house! Did you know it has up to 70% more sodium than Parmesan-Reggiano and it also has lower quality standards?

My kitchen is stocked with chef quality gadgets but I don't know how to use them... as I read this book I kept reading parts out loud to my husband...more
Mary
Unlike Kathleen Flinn and all the homemade scrumptiousness of her childhood...I taught myself how to cook because my mother worked and used every convenience food item available in the supermarkets back in the 60's. This book was a bit like a cooking class I had already attended so I skimmed over parts, but overall I did enjoy it. Ms Flinn has become one of my favorite authors this year :)
Lynne
What did I think? I think I need to buy a copy of this book since I borrowed it from the library and have to return it!

For some reason this book really spoke to me. It said, "Lynne, even though you think you can't cook and/or don't like to cook, I can teach you that you can and you will."

I learned so many helpful hints about preparing and cooking food. I learned how to be creative (even though I didn't know I had it in me!) about making meals with what's available in the fridge and how easy it...more
Sally
The author, having graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, a famous French cooking school, sees a woman in the grocery store with a cart full of unhealthy pre-fab food items. As they talk, she realizes the woman doesn't know how to cook anything better, and is actually spending more money on bad food than she would if she had confidence in the kitchen. So this gives the author the idea to find volunteers who know little to nothing about cooking and then teach them some basics. This was a great book to ju...more
Karen
The keep-in-the-fridge-bread dough recipe alone is worth the price of the book. Since reading this, I've taken apart a whole chicken for the first time, saved beef bones for future broth-making, devised a fabulous last-minute recipe involving chicken legs braised in coconut milk, and looked at the contents of my fridge and pantry in a completely different light. This book liberates you to be creative in the kitchen, inspires you to make 'make do' recipes, and provides terrific 'flavor profiles'...more
Katie Watkins
I must admit that I didn't know much about cooking when I got married. I also didn't really feel that I had time to learn--I was going to school and working full time and I thought the best solution was boxed meals and freezer foods. I started to cook more from scratch as the years went on and it's amazing how much we prefer that type of food now.

I thought this was a fantastic book in teaching someone some of the basics. I even learned a few tips and tricks that I hadn't thought of or didn't kno...more
Amy
The universe is really aligning telling me to do something along these lines. Just don't have the professional training... yet?
Juliana
One of my twitter friends recommended this book a year or so ago and it finally came up on my Kindle queue to read. I liked this book. I liked it so much that I plan on ordering a hard copy to keep in my kitchen and use for mark-up. Another memoir project book in the vein of Under the Tuscan Sun and Julie and Julia I thought this a cut above others I've read recently.

Kathleen Flinn previously wrote about her experiences at the Parisian Le Corden Bleu cooking school. Here she shows what she did...more
Sarah
I won this book in a First Reads giveaway. It was an Advanced Readers Copy.

When I first started this book, I thought it was going to take forever and that it would feel like work all the way through. I persevered though and sped my way through after about the first twenty to thirty pages.

Looking back, I found the beginning to be a bit rough and I remember thinking that I wish I could just hear about the lessons already. There is a lot of useful information on cooking, but there is also a lot of...more
Arminzerella
After encountering a woman in the grocery store who good-naturedly let Kathleen help her select fresh groceries, Kathleen began to realize that modern convenience foods have made people reluctant to cook at home, from scratch, and most people don’t know how easy it can be (not to mention less expensive, and more healthy for you). She embarked on a project to work with several volunteers to help them learn some cooking basics, add to their culinary repertoire, clear out their refrigerators and pa...more
Lisa K
Nov 04, 2011 Lisa K added it
Shelves: reviewed, favorites
Lately I’ve noticed that, while I read most things pretty fast, I can gobble up one of these non-fictiony books in an afternoon. I love reading a book where I’m given a nice, tangible connection to the author and her real life set of characters and I love seeing what actual people are actually doing. Maybe I’m just nosey but these kinds of books just make me happy, so I guess it all works out nicely for everyone.

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School was a book I requested and forgot about in my wo...more
Katie Robson
I adored this book. I recently began my foray into cooking heavily over this past year. I'm consistently told by friends how amazing my cooking is, and am already familiar with many terms and techniques that Kathleen Finn discuses. However, while I was already great at following recipes/adjusting them to my own needs, I wanted to gain a foundation in the basics and, like many of the people featured in this book, hoped to someday be able to just look in my fridge or pantry and whip something up w...more
Will
An extremely quick and enjoyable read. If you are into trying to find ways to improve your what you eat and want to know more about what you eat without it being preached to you or drummed into you with a lot of scientific jargon this book is for you. The concept is simple and had wildly successful results.

Take a group of women (the guy for this group backed out before it even started) who rely on McDonalds, ultra processed foods, and pretty much live their food lives out of a box or can. Teach...more
Myckyee
I’m a closet foodie and I love to cook and bake, but after working all day I don’t have the energy. After reading this book I realized I’m far from alone.

For The Kitchen Counter Cooking School project, author Kathleen Flinn recruited nine volunteers who needed help. Each had something that needed improvement - they were cooking unhealthy food, buying take-out and resorting to what they thought would be the fastest and most convenient method of food preparation. All the volunteers were women and...more
Joy
I heard of this book via a short review in People last week, and was so intrigued that I went ahead and bought it that same day. We've all heard the exhortations and encouragements to cook healthy and avoid processed foods, but what if you were never taught to cook? What if your husband was a chef and was so critical of how you held the knife that you never tried to cut up an onion? What if you wanted to cook better meals for your family, but you were so terrified of messing it up that you staye...more
Nicole Bonia
I loved reading about Kathleen Flinn‘s teaching adventures in The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. I can’t recommend it highly enough for those who want, very simply, to master their kitchen domain. Flinn had the idea to start the “school” after she sneakily followed a mother and daughter around the supermarket pondering their choices, which all seemed to be heavily processed and straight out of the box. These days food and related choices are sensitive issues – that Flinn had the nerve to approa...more
Krista
Flinn's lessons to a group of reluctant cooks made me think back to my own culinary evolution, from a "box and bag" girl in college to a confident home cook some fifteen years later. My own transformation hinged on a desire to be healthier and to save money. I collected recipes from various sources, and tried out one a week, then two, then more, becoming a little more daring each time. In a watershed moment, I remember listening to "The Splendid Table" on NPR and realizing that it was possible t...more
K
So here's a paradox -- can a book teach you how to cook without using a book?

I enjoy cooking and love trying out new recipes. Sometimes I'll even improvise on an existing recipe, adding or substituting here and there, and feel creative as I do it. But I've never had the confidence to be completely spontaneous in my cooking. I've always wanted to be one of those people who can go through the pantry or fridge and invent something on the spot, and actually have it taste good. I've watched other peo...more
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Ask Kathleen Flinn: Video lessons to go along with Kitchen Counter 1 4 Aug 16, 2014 02:52PM  
  • Eating for Beginners: An Education in the Pleasures of Food from Chefs, Farmers, and One Picky Kid
  • The Pleasures of Cooking for One
  • Confections of a Closet Master Baker: One Woman's Sweet Journey from Unhappy Hollywood Executive to Contented Country Baker
  • How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart
  • Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen
  • The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week)
  • An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace
  • My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes)
  • The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove
  • Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant : Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone
  • Dinner: A Love Story: It All Begins at the Family Table
  • Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Restaurant Reviews, Articles, Memoir, Fiction and More
  • Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris
  • Man with a Pan
  • Beaten, Seared, and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America
  • Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch -- Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods
  • Ruhlman's Twenty: The Ideas and Techniques that Will Make You a Better Cook
  • One Big Table: A Portrait of American Cooking: 600 recipes from the nation's best home cooks, farmers, pit-masters and chefs
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Kathleen Flinn is the author of The New York Times bestseller The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, a memoir with recipes about her experiences at the famed Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

Her second book, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, tells the story of an unusual project in which Flinn delved into the lives of nine culinary novices and tried to figure out what lessons they could learn to beco...more
More about Kathleen Flinn...
The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir with Recipes from an American Family Seattle Sidewalk Offline Restaurant Guide: A Comprehensive Guide to Seattle Dining

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“Find something you believe in. Then, just do it. That's what matters.” 4 likes
“Every grocery cart tells a story.” 1 likes
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