Give a Girl a Knife (★★★★☆)

Give a Girl a Knife

Amy Thielen   *   Clarkson Potter   *   May 16, 2017   *   320 Pages

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Amy Thielen is a popular chef, writer, and TV personality on Food Network’s Heartland Table. She grew up in rural Minnesota but moved to New York in her 20s to work at various impressive fine-dining restaurants. After the birth of their son, she and her artist husband eventually moved back to Minnesota.



In 2014, her cookbook, The New Midwestern Table, won the James Beard Foundation Cookbook Award in American Cooking.

New Midwestern Table

I have to be honest and say that, even after reading this memoir and then flipping through her wildly popular cookbook, the food she makes doesn’t sound very appetizing to me. That doesn’t mean it’s not good! I’ve never tried it. But I’m just not excited about deviled eggs and cheeseballs–no matter how much Thielen claims to have elevated the flavors.

Still, Give a Girl a Knife is an interesting memoir. It’s essentially divided into two sections. The first part focuses on the roughly ten years she she spent working as a line cook in New York. The second part is more personal and talks about her food memories at home–both her childhood home and her current home in Minnesota.

I thought I was going to have a hard time getting through the second part of the book, just because the first part was so good, but actually it ended up being pretty great, too. Granted, there were a handful of slow moments–especially when Thielen talks about her childhood–but I really enjoyed the more current stories that included her husband, Aaron. He is definitely an intense artist-type, too, but he brings some balance and down-to-earth-ness to their story. The chapter called Old Five-and-Dimers, where Thielen explains how she and Aaron started dating, was one of my favorites for this reason.

Ultimately, Give a Girl a Knife is an entertaining foodie memoir. It isn’t as good as, say, Yes, Chef or 32 Yolks (two of my favorite memoirs of all time), but I still found it solidly enjoyable. For sure worth a read.

Advanced Reader Copy provided through Amazon Vine.

6 thoughts

  1. I really loved Julia Child’s book My Life in France. It was interesting, well written, personal, and detailed the struggles of writing a French cookbook for American kitchens. Her relationship with her husband is unique and interesting, too. It’s a lover book, but I zipped through it because it was hard to put down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read that one, too, and also loved it! Julia Child…sigh. There will always be a part of my heart reserved for her. She was such an interesting, funny, down-to-earth person–and so accepting of and willing to work with whatever life threw at her. I admire that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s so funny, I thought the same thing most of the time when she mentioned the food she was cooking in this one…I love trying different things but I had no interest in trying any of that! I still like how she talks about her work and her influences though. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And I also liked hearing her work stories. I still think the first part of the book is my favorite for that reason. But yeah, I will not be running out to get her cookbook–eek, just not for me…


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