Flinn, Kathleen

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Flinn, Kathleen

PERSONAL:

Married Michael Klozar, 2004. Education: Columbia College, Chicago, IL, B.A., 1989; Le Cordon Bleu, diplome de cuisine, 2005.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Seattle, WA; Paris, France. Office—Writing Loft, Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Journalist and food writer. Microsoft, founding restaurant editor for Sidewalk.com, mid-1990s-99; MSN.co.uk, London, England, editorial director, 1999-2003. Internet Underground (magazine), founding editor, 1995-96. Worked variously as a magician's assistant, professional Tarot card reader, singing telegram messenger, and stand-up comedian.

MEMBER:

International Association of Culinary Professionals (chair of the Food Writing, Editing, & Publishing committee), American Society of Journalists & Authors, Authors Guild, Society of Professional Journalists.

WRITINGS:

(Editor) Seattle Sidewalk Offline Restaurant Guide: The Most Comprehensive Guide to Dining in Seattle, Seattle Sidewalk/Sasquatch Books (Seattle, WA), 1997.

The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Learning, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School, Viking/Penguin (New York, NY), 2007.

Author of the Kathleen Flinn Web log. Contributor to periodicals, including Playboy, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Adweek, Men's Fitness, USA Weekend, Smithsonian, Canada's Globe and Mail, and Chicago Sun-Times.

SIDELIGHTS:

Kathleen Flinn is an American journalist and food writer. Flinn began her career as a writer at the age of seventeen by throwing a dart at a map. Her dart landed on Gary, Indiana, prompting her to take up work in nearby Chicago, Illinois. She worked freelance for the Chicago Sun-Times and later undertook an internship with Playboy magazine. After working at a number of newspapers, she headed to Florida and began working as a reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. She also began editing the Internet Underground, a print magazine with nationwide circulation covering Internet technology.

Flinn began working for Microsoft in the mid-1990s, working as the founding restaurant editor for Sidewalk.com. When it was purchased by CitySearch, she moved to London, England, to work as an editor and later as the editorial director for MSN.co.uk. In addition to her work in journalism, Flinn has worked a number of odd jobs, including as a magician's assistant, as a professional Tarot card reader, as a singing telegram messenger, and as a stand-up comedian.

Flinn is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Society of Journalists & Authors, the Authors Guild, and the International Association of Culinary Professionals, for which she serves as chair of the Food Writing, Editing, & Publishing committee. She contributes to a number of periodicals, including Playboy, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Adweek, Men's Fitness, USA Weekend, and Chicago Sun-Times. Flinn also writes a personal Web log. Flinn edited her first book, Seattle Sidewalk Offline Restaurant Guide: The Most Comprehensive Guide to Dining in Seattle, in 1997. It was jointly published through Seattle Sidewalk and Sasquatch Books.

In 2004, she made a major shift in her life. She married her boyfriend, Michael Klozar, and moved to Paris with him. There she undertook studies at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu culinary arts school, earning a diplome de cuisine in 2005. She published a memoir, The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Learning, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School, in 2007; the book focuses on her love life and experiences at the culinary school, surrounded by big egos, hot tempers, and on her lack of ability to communicate fluently in French. In a list of frequently asked questions on the Kathleen Flinn Home Page, Flinn responded to the question as to whether or not she wants to open her own restaurant by saying flatly: "No, I'm a writer. Being a chef is a very physical job." Flinn also remarked upon the cooperation she received from Le Cordon Bleu while writing her memoir, stating: "Everyone has been remarkably gracious. No one ever tried to influence the book, and in fact, lent me significant help in portraying the history of the school accurately. Even Andre Cointreau, the school's owner, has been amazingly accommodating. The notable thing was that they were helpful and giving of their time before any of them read it. I think it showed a lot of faith in their institution."

A contributor to Good Housekeeping described the story as a "souffle-light memoir." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews remarked that "the book is best when she sticks to cooking," describing the text as "a fascinating look inside a famed elite institution, unnecessarily garnished with lackluster autobiography." A contributor to the Midwest Book Review called it "an amazing tour-de-force" for finding out about top chefs' backgrounds, as well as "an ebullient saga of self-discovery and learning what really matters." A contributor to Publishers Weekly called the memoir "a readable if sentimental chronicle," adding that "her struggles with the language and lack of knowledge about the culture lend comic elements."

Flinn told CA: "For me, writing has always been a part of my identity. Even as a little girl, I knew that I wanted to grow up to be an author. I even put my first book together at age nine, binding it together with freezer tape. It was a science fiction saga heavily influenced by the movie Star Wars. I no longer write in that genre.

"I had editors who influenced me mightily during my early days of writing in Chicago. It's the home of the old just-the-facts journalism adage, ‘If your mother says she loves you, check it out.’ At the same time, I was introduced to the remarkable wit and sense of play in the work of Dorothy Parker, and the no-nonsense sensuality of M.F.K. Fisher. These three elements remain among my chief influences.

"My husband is an integral part of my writing process now. He's a great editor, and he isn't afraid to push me or give hard feedback. Typically, I write a piece of a chapter, and when I think it's ready, he reads it back to me and we discuss it. I take his feedback and rewrite it, and this process continues until we both think it's done. Remarkably, after doing this for an entire year on a book, we neither killed one another nor got divorced.

"I hope that The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry will inspire people to break free from lives that they feel trapped in and go after a dream, whatever that may be for them. I was living what seemed like a great life from the outside, but inside, I was a reluctant corporate middle manager who felt trapped and lonely. I'm lucky that I got fired, laid off, or whatever you want to call it. I might still be there, hating it. Instead, I went to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, fell in love, and write books for a living. I earn less, but I live more. That's what it's about, right?"

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Flinn, Kathleen, The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Learning, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School, Viking (New York, NY), 2007.

PERIODICALS

California Bookwatch, November, 2007, The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry.

Good Housekeeping, October, 2007, review of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, p. 241.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry.

Midwest Book Review, November, 2007, review of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry.

Publishers Weekly, June 25, 2007, review of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, p. 42

Tampa Tribune, November 13, 2007, Jeff Houck, author interview.

ONLINE

Kathleen Flinn Home Page,http://www.kathleenflinn.com (March 15, 2008), author biography.

Wordstockfestival.com,http://www.wordstockfestival.com/ (March 26, 2008), author profile.