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The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

By Kathleen Flinn
16-minute read
Audio available
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School (2011) is a practical guide to mastering the art of good home cooking. Kathleen Flinn set out to equip nine insecure home cooks with vital kitchen skills. They learned how to wield a knife confidently, roast a chicken, and bake a mean loaf of bread. But even more importantly, they learned to value food and to make conscious choices about what they ate and how they shopped for food. In these blinks, Flinn compiles the key lessons from her workshops to inspire any home cook.

  • Aspirational cooks who want to wow their friends with new recipes 
  • Tired parents looking for quick, healthy recipes to feed the kids after a long day at work 
  • Anyone interested in how to live – and eat – in a more ethical, sustainable way

Kathleen Flinn is the best-selling author of the memoirs The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, which details her experiences as an aspiring chef at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, and Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good – an intergenerational memoir about the importance of food in her family. She is also a prolific contributor to publications such as Smithsonian, USA Weekend, and Globe and Mail. When she’s not writing about food, she teaches others to make it in her popular cooking workshops.

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The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

By Kathleen Flinn
  • Read in 16 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 10 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn
Synopsis

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School (2011) is a practical guide to mastering the art of good home cooking. Kathleen Flinn set out to equip nine insecure home cooks with vital kitchen skills. They learned how to wield a knife confidently, roast a chicken, and bake a mean loaf of bread. But even more importantly, they learned to value food and to make conscious choices about what they ate and how they shopped for food. In these blinks, Flinn compiles the key lessons from her workshops to inspire any home cook.

Key idea 1 of 10

When we outsource cooking to corporations, we lose control over what we eat.

Imagine you were going about your shopping when you realized that a woman was following you. Chef and food writer Kathleen Flinn was once this woman. When she found herself stalking a shopper in the supermarket, she was scared they would call security on her, but she couldn’t help herself. Transfixed, she watched as the tired-looking woman and her teenage daughter trudged around the supermarket, shoveling pre-made meals into their cart. Despite having a cart full of food, there was little nutritional value in what they were buying. 

Flinn decided she had to intervene. After convincing the skeptical shopper that she wasn’t a stalker, she spent the next half hour leading her around the supermarket, showing her how everything she had in her trolley could be replaced by fresh, more affordable ingredients that she could easily learn to prepare herself. 

The key message here is: When we outsource cooking to corporations, we lose control over what we eat.

That day may have transformed how the woman shopped and thought about food. But it was even more transformative for Flinn. She realized that home cooks turn to prepackaged food because they have no confidence in their own skills. Instead, they outsource cooking to major corporations – thereby losing control of what they put in their own and their family’s bodies. 

That day in the supermarket, Flinn decided to make it her mission to equip home cooks with the key skills and knowledge they would need to cook healthy, delicious meals. She put out a call on the radio for people who would be willing to allow her into their homes and pantries and then come along for a series of practical cooking lessons. She received dozens of emails, and she ultimately selected ten cooks to participate in her workshops.

The participants were adults of all ages and came from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, from a wealthy psychologist in her sixties to a young, cash-strapped housewife with small kids to a young woman in her twenties living in student housing. They had one thing in common: they all described themselves as “poor cooks” and all subsisted primarily on heavily processed food. 

The journey that followed allowed the participants not only to develop key skills in the kitchen but also to change their relationships with food fundamentally. 

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