Going to Culinary School?

            Whenever I get asked an opinion about going to cooking school, I always mention two books that would give one an idea of what it is like: Michael Ruhlman’s The Making of a Chef and Kathleen Flinn’s The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry.

            With all the grandeur of celebrity chefs on the Food Network, a lot of people are getting the wrong perception of what it takes real chefs to get where they are now. I had lofty notions too about going to cooking school full-time but after reading the above 2 books, I realized that I might not have the stamina and dedication to withstand the grueling schedule (nor do I have the money.)

            I  was sent the new paperback version of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry by its publisher, Penguin Books. My original hardback version was loaned to a friend whose kid was interested in going to cooking school.

            Kathleen Flinn’s book is one of those culinary memoirs (the other being Julia Child’s My Life in France) I love to read over and over. Her tales about her time in the kitchen of the famous Le Cordon Bleu  in France are at the same time gripping and funny. But there are also tears. And you feel extremely sympathetic to her and want to scream at the Chef instructor – who told Kathleen that her sauce was “C’est Horrible” and that she was wasting her time – to give the girl a break! But such is the reality of culinary training. If you can’t take the heat, you get out. There will be roast ducks dropped on the floor and cut or burned fingers, but in the end you realize what you are working so hard for. You also get a peek at life in vibrant Paris and her relationship with the very supportive man in her life – Mike. I don’t want to reveal too much of the book. Suffice to say, that even if I may never get the chance to spend months going to a culinary institute, I can still follow a dream. Kathleen Flinn’s book has been one of my inspirations when I started Petites Bouchées.

            As I juggle my corporate life and pastry business, I know in the end I have to choose between the two of them. But I already know which one will make me happy and fulfilled.

            The paperback version of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry is coming out September 2, 2008. I love the cover of this book! A lone woman walking through a path lined with trees…quite invoking of the journey she was about to begin (or had taken).


16 thoughts on “Going to Culinary School?

  1. I read that book when it came out I think last year and laughed hard. It had some boring spots but overall it was really interesting. I hope to go to pastry school and think that I might go abroad so it was nice to see what its "really" like. Although I would probably cry ten times more than she did…

  2. I agree people should really research before going to Culinary School. So many people take a fun demonstration class at their local gourmet shop and they think, hey, I could go to Culinary School. They are in for a rude awakening.

  3. Sounds like a great book…will keep my eye out for it!

    Being a chef is definitely a tough road, I have great respect for the hard work they put in so I can sit in a restaurant and have some magic on my plate 🙂

  4. I always thought that if I became a millionaire, I'd like to go to culinary school. I don't want to make a career out of it, so I'd never go now, but only for a challenge. I would love to read this book – I'll have to keep an eye out for it!

  5. I always wonder if you had to make a living cooking if you would continue to love it as much and at what point would it become a chore rather than a joy? I love to write but when I had my own business there was so much stress and worry that it stopped being fun. Now it is a hobby, and I find it fun and I am so much more productive!

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