Kitchen Confidential meets Sex and the City in this delicious, behind-the-scenes memoir from the first female captain at one of New York City's most prestigious restaurants
While Phoebe Damrosch was figuring out what to do with her life, she supported herself by working as a waiter. Before long she was a captain at the New York City four-star restaurant Per Se, the culinary creation of master chef Thomas Keller.
Service Included is the story of her experiences there: her obsession with food, her love affair with a sommelier, and her observations of the highly competitive and frenetic world of fine dining.
She also provides the following dining tips:
Please do not ask your waiter what else he or she does.Please do not steal your waiter's pen.Please do not say you're allergic when you don't like something.Please do not send something back after eating most of it.Please do not make faces or gagging noises when hearing the specials—someone else at the table might like to order one of them.
After reading this book, diners will never sit down at a restaurant table the same way again.
A charming debut by a former waiter at the New York City restaurant Per Se slips in some high-end tricks of the trade. Vermont-bred foodie Damrosch was a few years out of Barnard College when she landed a job at chef Thomas Keller's Per Se. Fast-talking and prone to do her homework, in this case assiduously absorbing Keller's French Laundry Cookbook, Damrosch starts as a backserver, and her training is intensive: attending food seminars, memorizing the acreage of Central Park and learning how not to interrupt dining couples holding hands. In a few months, she's elevated to captain (a rare job for a woman), which entails navigating guests through the elaborate menus and essentially learning the subtleties of putting the guest at ease. Anticipating desire becomes Damrosch's role, as well as making sure New York Times food critic Frank Bruni has the best meal of his life. (Indeed, the place receives four stars.) She begins a romance with Andre the sommelier. Much of the latter half of this youthful, exuberant memoir is overtaken by their burgeoning affair, although the most delightful chapter, "I Can Hear You," is full of vignettes of Damrosch's real-life waiting, i.e., the delivery of the Faberg egg as a marriage proposal, and the parade of celebrities she meets along the way.