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The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  8,159 Ratings  ·  1,077 Reviews
In 2003, Kathleen Flinn, a thirty-six-year-old American living and working in London, returned from vacation to find that her corporate job had been eliminated. Ignoring her mother’s advice that she get another job immediately or “never get hired anywhere ever again,” Flinn instead cleared out her savings and moved to Paris to pursue a dream-a diploma from the famed Le Cor ...more
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published October 4th 2007 by Viking Adult
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Petra X
How do you rate a book 5*, what criteria do you use? I can tell you when a book is 10 star, so far above anything else in story, characterisation and writing that you know you probably won't read a better book that year. (view spoiler) This book is not like that.

It is, however, quite well-written, the recipe
Oct 19, 2008 Rozanne rated it it was ok
The parts about what it's like to be at cooking school were really interesting. The parts about what it's like to be Kathleen Flinn were not.
Genene Murphy
Jul 11, 2008 Genene Murphy rated it really liked it
Sometimes there's more to a story than what's printed on its pages. For example, my copy is stained with wine and chicken stock. And I suspect that's what Flinn intended: to give an experience. Reading the first chapter, I knew that this would sit on my kitchen counter and not in my shelves.

And if the vicarious experience of living in France and falling in love--with cooking and a guy named Mike--isn't enough, consider the discovery between recipes and insider accounts of what happens at a famo
May 23, 2013 Kate rated it it was ok
Thoroughly disappointing as a culinary memoir.

I second what one reader said before in that there's absolutely no conflict at the heart of the story. Kathleen begins this novel as a chef and ends it as a chef, albeit one who can now add puff pastry to her repertoire. Even when Mike is in the hospital, or Kathleen experiences a terrifying kidney infection, her carefree voice and sparse prose treat it as a minor annoyance, along the lines of a clogged toilet.

Tra la la, tra la la, we get it. Your
Feb 18, 2009 Julia rated it really liked it
The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, is a lovely read. No stranger to stories about food, I found this particular piece interesting because it ventures beyond the personal associations we all have with food and channels the deep seeded desire we all have to drop everything and pursue the one thing we love, in this case cooking. The author's voice is clear, while she discusses her daily successes and failures in the kitchen, she leads the reader through a tour of culinary paris, and a trip t ...more
Dec 08, 2008 Christine rated it it was ok
Gosh, it's been a long time since I've read a book I didn't like. Unfortunately, I read this upon returning from France, and so perhaps I had too high expectations for it, but Flinn's narrative is just sort of lame. I got about halfway through the book before deciding that life was too short to waste it on a mediocre read, and I moved on. The recipes and the descriptions of the inner workings of Le Cordon Bleu are really interesting, but Flinn herself is a little annoying. Sometimes you feel she ...more
Feb 01, 2008 Alexa rated it really liked it
I sat down and read this book in an evening because I love food and I love the idea that people go do these crazy, rigorous courses in other countries to learn how to cook incredible food, every time. And they talk about tasty, tasty food a lot. There is a recipe at the end of every chapter and most have some relation to what Kathleen is cooking as part of Le Cordon Bleu's course so most of it is very classic and meaty, which sounds great but isn't really what I cook. Don't read the book for the ...more
Feb 22, 2009 minervasowl rated it it was amazing
Amazing (as indicated by a five-star rating on this site) might be a bit strong, but it is a wonderful book, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Flinn's account of her Le Cordon Bleu adventure is in many ways what I had hoped that How to Cook a Dragon would be.

There is a lovely combination of romance and reality of living in Paris and attending the legendary cooking school.

The food and experiences and stories and characters are skillfully interwoven, and the result is an inspiring nudge to follow your ow
Jan 29, 2008 Hessa rated it did not like it
Already unmoved by it. I am currently attending this said school and i must say there is more drama and "vivre" in the classroom than her writing. its flat. nothing simmers or boils from the pages. i expected it to be transcendent, with language far more flowery and humorous than this. although it is quite accurate in detailing the events of the school,however the plot is vague. I'd recommend it if you really want to know what its like being a culinary student in Paris. Otherwise, pick up eat, p ...more
Mar 29, 2011 Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s not the first time such an experience is recorded and published. Michael Ruhlman shared his journey in the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the Harvard of cooking schools in The Making of a Chef. Katherine Darling gave us a glimpse of her life in New York City’s famed French Culinary Institute in her memoir – Under the Table and Dalia Jurgensen showed us the real kitchen scene through her writing in Spiced: A Pastry Chef’s True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits and What Re ...more
Apr 27, 2011 Vikki rated it it was amazing
I loved this cooking memoir! Kathleen Flinn is a journalist. She went to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and graduated. She took and passed all three classes-Basic, Intermediate, and Superior. It was so interesting to hear how it all worked. She is a great writer and very funny.
Flinn had met Julia Child on two separate occasions. She had gone to a cooking workshop at a fancy resort before she (Flinn) went to Le Cordon Bleu. A woman came in late and sat next to her saying the salmon at breakfast was so
Jan 25, 2010 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kathleen Flinn's memoir of her time at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris made me really happy, really inspired to do things I've always wanted to do, and really hungry. Of course, the book is filled with various recipes that feature prominently in the various chapters, and most of them are adapted or at least something that could reasonably be achieved by the home cook.
Flinn's story is really heartfelt; just like a good meal, it is obvious that the author's heart and soul went into its pro
Jan 01, 2010 Ricardo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We listened to this as a family on a series of highway trips and really enjoyed it. The author decides to attend Le Cordon Bleu, the famous Paris culinary school, after getting laid off from a high-powered job in London. She tells a double story, that of her studies at the school and that of her romance with the man who encourages her to go to Paris, joins her there, and eventually becomes her husband. Highlights include her anecdotes about apartment life in Paris, and her often fraught relation ...more
Dec 26, 2007 Donny rated it liked it
With her journalist background, Flinn is a better reporter than writer. Her prose is sometimes lacking (and sometimes downright embarrassing, especially when she reaches for insight), but her story (a woman in her 30's who's laid off so she uses all her savings to attend Le Cordon Bleu in Paris) is still interesting. Just hearing how the famous school works, with its difficult teachers, competitive students and crazy assignments (so much meat stuffed with meat stuffed with meat!) is good enough ...more
While I enjoyed this journey with Flinn to the famed Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris, I couldn't help but feel something was missing. She described going to class, the demonstrations, what it is like to live in Paris, etc., but I didn't get a feel for what really goes on when you are a student. She learns all these fancy French dishes, but I wanted the nitty gritty, HOW do you learn how to make these? Some of the students weren't even cooks, how did they learn? There were translators, but I ...more
Jan 28, 2008 Grillables rated it it was ok
Shelves: food, biography
It was probably a mistake to read this so soon after _My Life in France_, as it suffered in comparison. This is the story of a corporate type who gets laid off and decides to pursue a lifelong dream of taking classes at Le Cordon Bleu. Not a bad story, but definitely rather superficial. For those more interested in the actual cooking/classes, try Michael Ruhlman's _The Making of a Chef_; for Francophile enthusiasm, try _My Life in France_.
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
I loved the parts about the cooking but the other parts about her life just about bored me to tears. The thing is this is my favorite type of book and it just didn't do it for me.
Kase! Wickman
Jan 20, 2011 Kase! Wickman rated it it was ok
one line review!

alternate title: eat, complain about your non-existent white people problems, love

more lines review!

I’ve been lugging Kathleen Flinn’s “The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry” from undersized East Coast apartment to undersized East Coast apartment for at least three years. Each time I nestled the press galley copy I snagged from a sophomore year internship onto the shelf, I’d consider reading it, then take a nap. (Actually, let’s not kid ourselves with the shelves — what are fl
Joelle Anthony
Jul 29, 2010 Joelle Anthony rated it it was amazing
I give it 5 stars, but a warning. If you're a vegetarian, with a strong constitution, then 4 stars. If you're a squeamish veggie, then 3 or maybe you should skip it altogether.

I liked the writing though and the way it was put together and even though I'm a bit of a squeamish vegetarian, I managed to get through all right. I enjoyed it enough to live with that aspect of it. My favourite chapter is actually the epilogue, but it wouldn't do you any good to skip to it because you have to have the b
Apr 17, 2009 Kathy rated it really liked it
This book is not for the squeamish! I thought it would be interesting to see what it's like for students attending Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris and it was...but I had no idea that when they prepare any sort of meat or fish, the creature has not been anywhere near a butcher. The students ARE the butchers. Don't even ask me to explain how they get the eyes out of a dead fish or what it's like to behead small furry creatures that are pets in America. An eerie fascination took over and I r ...more
Text Addict
A nice, light memoir of the author's decision to go to, and time at, Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Great on details about cooking techniques and living in Paris, pedestrian on insight. Not wrong, mind you, just not exactly a surprise.

I admit one reason that I give it only 3 stars may be that it convinced me that I'd never want to go to Le Cordon Bleu, even if I could afford it. First, too much stress - though she points out that a lot of that is what you bring to it. Second, too much pork and shellf
Feb 12, 2016 Marissa rated it liked it
I enjoy the I-did-something-crazy-and-wrote-a-book-about-it genre. This book was an interesting glimpse into Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. It didn't make me want to learn to cook, but did make me want to visit Paris and work on my French!
Kathye Allen
Aug 03, 2013 Kathye Allen added it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes to read and cook
Recommended to Kathye by: Cathy Glinski
While I have never had the urge to live in Paris or attend Le Courdon Bleu, I throughly enjoyed the authors telling of her time there. If you like to cook or travel or both, you will find this a good easy read. For anyone (myself included)who likes to read cookbooks like novels the fact that Ms Flinn includes some very tasyt sound receipes is just the icing on the cake.
Nov 03, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: foodie
This book combined two things I enjoy reading about - food and France. It was an early ambition of mine, inspired by watching The Duchess of Duke Street on PBS of all things, to work in a kitchen. I have long realized that it's fortunate I never pursued that ambition since I lack both the physical and intestinal fortitude necessary, based on every kitchen memoir I've ever read. Visiting France is still on the table, although no longer top of my travel wish list. In this book, Kathleen Flinn does ...more
Patrice Sartor
3.5 stars.

This was my Food for Thought's book selection for November. I was wary after reading the subtitle, for in this book club we've read a number of books where someone graduated cooking school and wrote about their experiences. I usually find these whiny, overly dramatic, and filled with mediocre writing.

Flinn's title, I'm happy to say, didn't feel whiny at all. Probably because of that, and her entertaining tales of her fellow students and chefs, I finished it. Flinn's background in journ
Sep 24, 2009 Julie rated it really liked it
Another food memoir and another francophile book. I swear I've never been a real francophile, but I've read so many books focusing on Paris lately that I think I'm turning into one. It's just a coincidence too.

I listened to this book on CD and really enjoyed the reader, which is very important. The book is the memoir of a woman who leaves the advertising world (not by choice) and realizes her dream of studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She does all 3 "courses:" basic, intermediate, and superie
Jul 05, 2016 Miriam rated it it was amazing
A quick, heartwarming, delightful read that is nearly impossible to set down. On top of that, there are recipes! Flinn provides us with a window into life as a student at Le Cordon Bleu. Her portraits of the chefs and her fellow students are well-drawn and never mean-spirited. One thing that I've learned, though, is that I don't have the depth of passion required to follow in her footsteps. This book is the closest I will ever come to earning my Cordon Bleu certificate.
Mar 14, 2011 Diane rated it liked it
Synopsis from Publishers Weekly: Flinn's engaging account of her studies at famed French cooking school Le Cordon Bleu should strike a chord with anyone who has dreamed of leaving the rat race and following a passion for food. The main course, Flinn's narrative of her trials and triumphs as she moves through the three levels of cuisine, is supplemented by plentiful helpings of drama, romance and near-tragedy in her personal life.

This book seems to get a lot of bad review
Oct 17, 2014 Jackie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this audio book. It was recommended by a friend from work. It is about a woman who goes to cooking school in France. It has humor, heartache, annoyance, and frustration throughout the entire book. I like the narrator's voice, it almost has maybe a bored quality to it, but it is still interesting to listen to.

As someone who enjoys cooking, the book was particularly interesting to me. I am pretty sure I don't have a passion for it, because I could not stomach doing some of the th
Feb 04, 2009 Catherine rated it liked it
Shelves: food, nonfiction
I want to preface this review by saying I would give 3.5 stars if I could. It was a pretty fun read, but I expected more focus.

I loved reading about Le Cordon Bleu, and I'm excited to try the recipes in the book. It was fun reading about life in Paris, too. I think it's awesome she actually made her dream a reality because so many people never do that.

I got a little tired of the love story. I'm glad she found love, and it was nice to hear about a little personal stuff (like her friends at school
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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 about Kathleen Flinn...

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“You can’t hurry love, and you can’t rush puff pastry, either. You can knead too much, and you can be too needy. Always, warmth is what brings pastry to rise. Chemistry creates something amazing; coupled with care and heat, it works some kind of magic to create this satisfying, welcoming, and nourishing thing that is the base of life.” 16 likes
“The sharper your knife, the less you cry...for me, it also means cutting those things that get in the way of your passion and living your life the way it is meant to be lived.” 12 likes
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