Ever wonder what it would be like to wait tables at an upscale restaurant such as Thomas Keller’s Per Se? Wonder no more: Phoebe Damrosch’s memoir Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter was published last week, and reviewers are saying it “could be to the food world what The Devil Wears Prada was to fashion.”
Damrosch tells the story of her journey from server to captain (rare for a woman), and of how she fell in love with the restaurant’s sommelier. In the book are fascinating tidbits of the rigorous training the waitstaff undergoes: learning to curtsy and dance the minuet for grace, memorizing the names of the cows that produce the restaurant’s milk and butter. “It seemed absurd at the time,” she explains, “but much of it came in handy.”
A review on the blog Super Chef says this “is the story of someone new to the service industry, hesitant at first, and then falling in love with every aspect of the trade.” It’s also the “inside story of the passion and focus required to really do the job of fulfilling the needs of a guest before they know they even have the needs.”
Of the book’s cover, which shows the back of a waitress holding plates out to each side, Damrosch says: “Please forgive the waiter’s left thumb in the dish; she has since been fired.”
Yes, but was she allowed to keep her $100 Montblanc pen (required of all Per Se waiters, who are expected to provide their own) when she left?