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The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks Hardcover – September 29, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (September 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670023000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670023004
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #312,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This could be the most important book you'll ever read."
--Morgan Spurlock, Super Size Me

"Kathleen entered the kitchens of strangers and took the time to understand how they think about food before changing their cooking forever." 
--Amanda Hesser, Food 52, The Essential New York Times Cookbook

"A life-changing book--entertaining, inspiring, and deeply educational."
--Erica Bauermeister, The School for Essential Ingredients

"A funny, thoroughly engrossing book...get ready to be inspired--and to eat well along the way." --Molly Wizenberg,, A Homemade Life

"[A] terrific, inspiring book."--"People" (A "People" Pick)

From the Author

"I feel there is a disconnect in this country when it comes to food and cooking. On one hand, there's a culture of hero worship around celebrity chefs that fuels cooking-as-a-spectator-sport on television. At the same time, marketers worked for decades to convince people that cooking themselves isn't worth their time, and that even simple dishes fall outside their grasp. All this explains why one woman in the book told me, 'I'm ashamed to admit it, but I've eaten Tuna Helper while watching Gordon Ramsey.' It's a funny line about a serious problem. The rise of convenience food and decline of home cooking are inextricably correlated to the surge of obesity and diabetes. If people think they can't cook, they put themselves at the mercy of companies whose interests are primarily financial to feed them instead. I believe in the power of home cooking and one of my life's mission is to help people find their way off the couch and into the kitchen.

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Customer Reviews

The book makes cooking accessible and focuses on a few basic skills that every one can master.
The book put a lot of things into perspective for me and I loved reading that others have a similar story to me.
After reading the book, I have changed my buying habits - I shop more often and buy less produce at a time.
Dot McIntyre

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Dot McIntyre on October 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been cooking for many, many years. I have children, grandchildren and now a great grandchild! I have cooked for everyone and I thought I knew a lot about cooking.

However, as I went through this book, I learned so many things I have done wrong all my life - such as keeping too much food in the refrigerator and pantry. There is only two of us now and we do have a busy life so I guess as Kathleen says, "I buy for the life I inspire to have rather than my real life."

I used to end up with wilted romaine, yellow broccoli with flowers, and limp celery too often. After reading the book, I have changed my buying habits - I shop more often and buy less produce at a time. So far I have wasted nothing and I feel so proud.

I even put a photo at the back of my fridge which I can always see - so my fridge isn't stuffed any more. Sometimes it looks even a little bare but there is no waste.

I also learned to taste all kinds of canned goods - what a difference in canned beans when I was making chili. I even threw out one can - it was that bad. Some store brands are better than others but sometimes you have to go with the name brand for taste and texture.

I have been practicing my knife skills too and I chop things so much faster now. I like showing that off to my hubby (who doesn't cook at all by the way).

My pantry is getting bare but that's okay - I know everything I have and I am sure nothing is out of date.

The bonus is I have saved a lot of money at the grocery store and I like that. I make all my own salad dressings now and that is great fun and a real saving.

You're never too old to learn new tricks in the kitchen.

This book is not only a great read - it is life changing! I loved it.
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68 of 78 people found the following review helpful By GadgetChick on October 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I read Flinn's previous book, The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry and I didn't fall in love with it, but thought it was interesting. This book came highly recommended to me by several people and so I was looking forward to reading it and maybe learning a little, and hearing about the cooking school Flinn developed. And then...I don't know.

There's something about this book I just don't like. Parts of the book seemed, for the lack of a better word, infomercial-ish. Like, she's using all this "sales language" to sell the cooking school attendees (and the readers) on why they should be doing something, and it's supposed to be really heartfelt and authentic, but all I can hear in my head is Ron Popeil saying "But WAIT, THERE'S MORE!!" It's hard for me to pin down exactly why I felt this way, but that's how I felt. Maybe it's because 99% of what Flinn talks about in the book is old news to me? I cook at home a lot - we only eat out, in our house, once a week, and I cook dinner from scratch at least four or five nights a week. I am not a "foodie" but I am aware of things like preservatives, why you should eat grassfed beef, buying organic, food waste, etc. I think maybe if you had no awareness of these things, the book would be very interesting and it would teach you things you didn't know. For me, I felt like she went on and on about things that have been very well-covered in other books and in the media and so parts of the book dragged on, while in the meantime I am hearing that chipper Ron Popeil voice in my head. At one point I got this flash vision of Flinn standing in the cooking-school kitchen, clutching a cookbook, with the same bright eyes and sincere, elated spirit of a religious missionary, evangelically preaching the cook-at-home gospel to the masses.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Myckyee on October 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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 I could relate to all of them to some degree.

At the start of the book, the author introduces each volunteer by describing a visit to their homes and in particular their kitchens. There were issues with outdated food, too much food as well as content. Food labels were looked at, cooking methods discussed and even storage issues confronted. Each woman was surprised when a spotlight was pointed at their fridge and cupboards. Sometimes it takes an outsider to say, yep, storing 15 boxes of pre-made pasta dinners at this cost doesn't make sense when you can make something yourself for a fraction of the price, is much healthier and doesn't take nearly as much time as you'd think if you know what you're doing. The author rented a kitchen and once a week the volunteers learned how to do exactly that.

The book is divided into parts and each describes a food product or group and how best to prepare it. The volunteers were given the tools and instructions and were encouraged to experiment. Their delight in discovering that they could produce healthy and attractive dishes was evident. I like how the self-esteem of a person can be raised just by learning a method of cooking they previously thought had been impossible to master.
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More About the Author

Kathleen Flinn is best known as the author of the New York Times bestseller "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry," a memoir with recipes about leaving her corporate life to study at the venerable Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and falling in love along the way. Her acclaimed follow-up, "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices Into Fearless Home Cooks" (Viking/Penguin 2011) was named a 2012 Book of the Year by the American Society of Journalists & Authors.

Her latest book, "Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good" (August 2014, Viking/Penguin), is a multi-generational culinary memoir that tracks the trials of her Midwest family.

Flinn and her books have been featured in dozens of media outlets, including People, Elle, Good Housekeeping, The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor and CBS This Morning. She is at work on two books, one fiction and one-fiction, and teaches both cooking and food writing around the country. She and her husband, Mike, divide their time between Seattle and Anna Maria Island, Fla., their trusty rescue dog, Maddy, in tow.