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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2017 Amy Thielen (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

" Give a Girl a Knife made me consider a move to, or at least a summer spent in, rural Minnesota just to be close to Amy and her home kitchen. I've read my fair share of chef memoirs - full of heroes, hard nights, and militant discipline. Amy's story is different. It's about more than her wacky path through some of New York's best kitchens; it's about Amy's innate need to cook. What is it they say? Writers write. Chefs cook. Amy is the rare example of someone who does both like a boss!" (Vivian Howard, author of Deep Run Roots)
"Amy's story of being true to herself, even when it means going against the grain (and off the grid, both literally and figuratively), is exciting and inspiring. I love how food lures her to return home - but this time on her own terms." (Andie Mitchell, author of It Was Me All Along)
"Fans of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential and Gabrielle Hamilton's Blood, Bones and Butter will enjoy this chef's memoir of learning to cook in Minnesota and dicing and deep-frying her way through the kitchens of some of New York's most esteemed chefs." ( AM New York)

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  • Eric
  • Colorado
  • 01-02-18

Brings me back to my Midwest roots

I really enjoy Amy Thielen’s cook book and cooking show so I was very excited to see that she had written a memoir about her journey to cooking via Minnesota and New York. I specifically loved the descriptions of New York, its sights sounds...and smells. She vividly depicts the kitchen and cooking scene in New York as well as her adventures in rural Minnesota. I was born in Minneapolis and spent summers in rural Minnesota so the mention of sauerkraut and ring bologna bring back a flood of memories. My favorite parts are the descriptions of cooking in New York. I wish the entire book was spent on this narrative but like her real life, Ms. Thielen’s book is divided between New York and Minnesota. While I enjoyed the Minnesota narrative — meeting her husband, fixing up their rural cabin and eventually settling in Park Rapids, MN — I longed for more ‘dirt’ on the trials and tribulations of the restaurant scene. Still, the narration is superb and the story very good.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Give A GirlA Knife: A Memoir

I absolutely loved this book. Growing up in Minnesota, I could relate to so many of the experiences Amy Thielen wrote about. This book brought me back to my childhood memories around the dinner table. If I could choose a friend, I would pick Amy Thielen! She is so likable, and down to earth. A true Minnesotan! She has led an interesting life by following her dreams.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful