Jane Sigal, a contributing editor at Food & Wine, worked as a hostess at Dovetail for a couple of months. The restaurant hoped to take advantage of her ability to spot restaurant critics (which included Food & Wine’s Dana Cowin, the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo, and James Oliver Cury of Epicurious, although she admits she was no help when it came to the New York Times’ Frank Bruni), and she hoped to learn how a top-notch restaurant runs its staff.
The result, like so many pieces of experiential journalism, falls a little flat. Sigal has trouble keeping up with reservations, doesn’t realize she should hang the checked coats in numerical order, and puts the flowers too close to the candles, causing them to smoke. Once, the reservation screen blips out on her, causing her to lose the name and phone number of the people she’d been talking to. And, uh … that’s pretty much it.
Sigal says she “wanted to swap viewpoints, add depth to my writing,” and that she can now “write about hosting with authority.” But by the end of the piece pretty much all we’ve learned about hosting is, as she says in her last line, “There’s more to it than checking coats.”
Maybe she’s saving the good stuff for her own version of Kitchen Confidential—Podium Confidential?