Give a girl a knife A memoir

Amy Thielen

Book - 2017

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2nd Floor 641.5092/Thielen Checked In
New York : Clarkson Potter/Publishers [2017]
First edition
Item Description
Includes index.
Physical Description
311 pages ; 22 cm
Main Author
Amy Thielen (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

From her childhood in a rural town north of Minneapolis, through years homesteading with the artist who would become her husband, on to New York's hottest restaurants, and then back to rural Minnesota with a new baby, chef, Food Network host, and cookbook author (The New Midwestern Table, 2013) Thielen sensuously traces a life laced together by food and its preparation. The author credits her outspoken mother with handing her a knife at a young age, trusting her to cut apples for pan dowdy without cutting herself, and setting her on the path that would lead her to work as one of the few women in the kitchens of chefs David Bouley and Daniel Boulud. Thielen is as supple and precise a writer as she is a cook, whether she's talking about fries "as crispy and light as balsa wood" or the "cool fleshiness" of Medjool dates. Her writing is as earthy as a plate of her grandma's sauerkraut hot dish, and her life as intriguingly complex and varied as a tasting menu. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

In this enjoyable memoir, James Beard Award–winner Thielen (The New Midwestern Table) takes readers on a culinary journey from the Midwest to New York City and back. For years, she and her artist husband, Aaron Spangler, bounced between the food and art worlds of New York City and their tiny, unplugged home in the woods of Minnesota. Simultaneously sincere and funny, Thielen writes of her path to becoming a chef and understanding her German and French roots. She graduated from Macalester College in 1997 and two years later left her hometown for New York City, where she attended cooking school and landed jobs in the kitchens of restaurants run by Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, among others. She often returned to Minnesota, where she would tap into the culinary traditions of her family: her mother would prepare French classics with a hearty American twist, and Thielen also became intrigued by the cuisine of her German grandmother, who delighted in bacon, butter, and all things fermented, especially pickles. After the birth of her son, Thielen and Spangler decided to leave Brooklyn and move permanently to Minnesota. Thielen's writing is warm and welcoming, especially as she describes going back home: "You don't just jump into the same old story. You step back into your shadow, but into a totally new narrative." (May) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly Annex.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A beautifully written memoir that follows one woman from her childhood in a dysfunctional Midwestern family to becoming a chef in New York City and finally her triumphant return home to reclaim and redeem Midwestern cooking. Amy Thielen, author of the James Beard Award-winning cookbook The New Midwestern Table, traces her journey from Park Rapids, Minnesota, to cooking professionally under some of New York City's finest chefs--including David Bouley, Daniel Boulud, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten--and then back home again. A love of food and an overwhelming desire to get the hell out of small-town America drive Thielen to New York to seek out its intense culinary world, which she embraces enthusiastically, while her boyfriend finds success in its fickle art world. After years of living in the city, with frequent trips back home in the summertime, the couple eventually chooses life deep in the woods in a cabin Thielen's husband built by hand. There Aaron can practice his craft while Amy takes the skills she learned cooking professionally and turns them to undoing years of processed foods to uncover true Midwestern cooking, which begins simply with humble workhorse ingredients such as potatoes and onions. Give a Girl a Knife offers a fresh look into New York's fine dining scene while also acknowledging a universal nostalgia for home--and a yearning to remake that home so it's even better than you remember."--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The author of the James Beard Award-winning cookbook The New Midwestern Table offers a fresh look at New York’s fine-dining scene by tracing her journey from Park Rapids, Minnesota, to cooking professionally under some of the finest chefs in New York City, where she enthusiastically embraces the culinary world even though she misses home.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A cook details her journey from Minnesota to cooking professionally under some of the finest chefs in New York City, where she enthusiastically embraced the culinary world despite feeling homesick.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

A beautifully written food memoir chronicling one woman’s journey from her rural Midwestern hometown to the intoxicating world of New York City fine dining—and back again—in search of her culinary roots   Before Amy Thielen frantically plated rings of truffled potatoes in some of New York City’s finest kitchens—for chefs David Bouley, Daniel Boulud, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten—she grew up in a northern Minnesota town home to the nation’s largest French fry factory, the headwaters of the fast food nation, with a mother whose generous cooking dripped with tenderness, drama, and an overabundance of butter.       Inspired by her grandmother’s tales of cooking in the family farmhouse, Thielen moves north with her artist husband to a rustic, off-the-grid cabin deep in the woods. There, standing at the stove three times a day, she finds the seed of a growing food obsession that leads her to the sensory madhouse of New York’s top haute cuisine brigades. But, like a magnet, the foods of her youth draw her back home, where she comes face to face with her past and a curious truth: that beneath every foie gras sauce lies a rural foundation of potatoes and onions.       Amy Thielen’s coming-of-age story pulses with energy, a cook’s eye for intimate detail, and a dose of dry Midwestern humor. Give a Girl a Knife offers a fresh, vivid view into New York’s high-end restaurants before returning Thielen to her roots, where she realizes that the marrow running through her bones is not demi-glace but gravy—thick with nostalgia and hard to resist.