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

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  4,050 ratings  ·  736 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 t
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Penguin Books (first published September 29th 2011)
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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,050 ratings  ·  736 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
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing

"So who says you can’t cook? Not every meal has to be from scratch, nor does everything you consume have to be organic, locally sourced, and pasture raised. Try to find a comfortable place somewhere between Tuna Helper and Top Chef."

This book was life-changing! I can't believe I'd never read it, and turns out that I accidentally own all of Flinn's books and hadn't even realized it! Pictured above is a Thai salmon dish I was inspired to create based on the author's little flavor cheat sheet at
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
Nov 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Cindy Hudson
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish
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 –
May 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Shelby *trains 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
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that fits in multiple categories. It's clearly nonfiction and a memoir of sorts as the author the author chronicles her culinary journey. While not a cookbook in the classic sense, the book is filled with kitchen sense and tips with recipes at the end of each chapter.
This is a book designed to help would-be cooks, timid cooks, cooks who run the gamut from novice to experienced. The author took nine diverse women and taught them kitchen sense along with basic knife and cooking s
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cooking
An easy read -- if you're interested in acquiring a few kitchen/cooking skills. This is not something I would normally read and was given to me by the librarian who'd just finished it. (For what it's worth, she also gave it 3 stars.)

Interesting exercise in learning what people are capable of in the kitchen, given some time and patience.

I've been cooking since forever -- or so it seems -- so I'm not the ideal target audience for this book, but Flinn writes well, explains things in a fun and inter
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I loved this book. I heard about it on What Should I Read Next, Anne Bogel's podcast with her guest Bethany Armstrong. I learned so much about the basics in the kitchen. I read so many parts of it outloud to my husband. We do pretty well in the kitchen, but her chopping technique is profound and one I will definitely work on every time I need to chop anything. I am so looking forward to her next book that is coming from the library.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I would have liked more information on basic skills and photographs. Rather then reading about the cooking school aspects, she could have actually instructed more. Whenever Flinn drifts her narrative to her own pov it just gets boring. I wasn't interested in her fabulous life, or her constant wine references. She had too many irrelevant details and not enough interest in actually trying to educate people on cooking!
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cooking, memoirs
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
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
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
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Adrienne Pettinelli
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.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cooking has always seemed like a chore to me – something that must be done for survival, but should be minimized as much as possible.

This book made me actually *want* to cook.

And if you don’t know me, that probably sounds like a mild statement. An easy reversal.

But it’s really not. It’s very high praise for Kathleen Flinn’s work.

Read my full review and takeaways.
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
Sep 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
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
Oct 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book, I believe, has literally changed my life. Not just because it has inspired me to try cooking for the first time (which it did) but because it made me think, "What about this makes it Sugar or Fat free?" I know that might sound stupid but I literally have never looked at the back of a box and thought holy cow that's a lot of chemicals, I could probably make this at home, and make it healthier. Cooking and eating SIMPLY is a concept that will stick with me. I'm not one to eat much proce ...more
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You know, before I read this book, I already knew that foods prepared from scratch are best and healthiest. But knowing that is a lot different than DOING that. I felt that I had just a handful of recipes that I could make that are fresh and delicious, the rest I just settled for jars or boxed stuff. Food TV helps, but this book was a joy to read and she did an awesome job of not only telling a fabulous story, but making it seem very do-able and realistic.

Tonight I made my first homemade vinaig
Sally Ewan
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 :)
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food, 2015
It is a rare book that I get from the library and decide I need to own it about halfway through. This was one of those books. Full of so many practical, helpful kitchen techniques and information, plus recipes. This book will have a special place in my kitchen!
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The universe is really aligning telling me to do something along these lines. Just don't have the professional training... yet?
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Fellow home cooks, do you all know about this book already? I feel that I may be late to the party but I'm still glad I came because this is a great read -- and a great reference, too. Kathleen Flinn honestly and compassionately chronicles her "project" to turn a group of volunteers (all cooking frowners and processed food junkies) into confident real food cooks with a few basic cooking and nutrition lessons. Ultimately there's something for everyone here, including a good story, some tasty soun ...more
Katie Robson
Apr 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: human-condition
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
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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
“Find something you believe in. Then, just do it. That's what matters.” 4 likes
“You're only limited by your passion and your imagination. Be open to the possibilities, take chances.” 2 likes
More quotes…