Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter

by Phoebe Damrosch | Cooking, Food & Wine |
ISBN: 0061228141 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingAceofHeartswing of Mississauga, Ontario Canada on 7/25/2007
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
4 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingAceofHeartswing from Mississauga, Ontario Canada on Wednesday, July 25, 2007
From Publishers Weekly
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 Fabergé egg as a marriage proposal, and the parade of celebrities she meets along the way.

Journal Entry 2 by wingAceofHeartswing from Mississauga, Ontario Canada on Saturday, August 11, 2007
Service Included is a book about the food industry. Damrosch shows us the inside world of a 4-star NYC restaurant. We see the machinations involved in producing a true gourmet dining experience. I learned a great deal about how the food is presented and how the staff works very hard to have impeccable service. Damrosch recounts her training for this exclusive restaurant. She must learn how to anticipate the diner's need before they even know what they want. She must also learn how not to interrupt people but still provide service.

Although some of Damrosch's opinions might be offensive; her tips included throughout the book are informative and sometimes very funny.

Damrosch writes about her blossoming love affair with the sommelier. She also tells some great stories about marriage proposals and celebrities. Damrosch relates how even on her day off she is still taste tasting and trying other restaurants.

I don't think I will be one of those people willing to spend $20,000 on one meal but it is very entertaining to read about the experience. This book gives one the insight into what makes a restaurant great.

Journal Entry 3 by HoserLauren from Burlington, Ontario Canada on Sunday, August 12, 2007
Reading now.

Journal Entry 4 by HoserLauren from Burlington, Ontario Canada on Monday, August 13, 2007
Damrosch is a captain at one of the few 4 star restaurants in New York. Four plus hour meals and 16 course dinners are not uncommon at the French restaurant Per Se. Damrosch takes readers behind the scenes of such a restaurant and tells stories that those not in the industry would never otherwise know.

It is truly amazing how many aspects of a meal there are to consider. How to serve, when to serve, what to serve, what to serve it with, what utensils need to be used, what temperature those utensils should be, which direction they should face, which wine goes with each course. It is incredible that anyone could ever remember even half of this!

Of course, the most interesting part is the social aspect. What do these people really think of those they are serving and what are their relationships like with their co-workers? While Damrosch doesn''t drop many names, she still gives many interesting stories. Imagine spending $20,000 on a dinner! Who would even think of doing that?

Damrosch also writes about her relationship with a sommelier who works at the restaurant, and how living in New York and working all night can affect your relationship. You would think that after spending all day around food they would want to do something different, but instead they go to try out other restaurants (or even their own).

Quite an interesting book. There are a couple of points and tips in here that have stuck with me because I would have never expected them! It''s like water cooler topics!

Journal Entry 5 by wingAceofHeartswing from Mississauga, Ontario Canada on Saturday, September 06, 2008
This book is back with me

Journal Entry 6 by wingAceofHeartswing from Mississauga, Ontario Canada on Wednesday, December 31, 2008
mailed today to my birthday partner

Journal Entry 7 by msjoanna from Columbia, Missouri USA on Thursday, January 29, 2009
Thanks for sharing -- looks like a fun book!
Let me start with a confession: I've eaten at Per Se. Once on my own credit card and more than once on expense accounts.

And another confession: I loved it. I'd pay to eat there again if there weren't so many other places that I haven't been before and that I'm now in NYC so rarely.

That said, I really liked the details about the training of the staff at Per Se, the information about the connection between the producers of different foods served and the restaurant, and some of the details about what the servers/backservers/etc. are thinking about when waiting on the tables.

But I just wasn't as interested in the personal memoir side of this book. The protagonists' own uncertainty about what to do with her life came across as sort of mundane rather than universal. Her relationship with a coworker and his relationship with his prior girlfriend didn't much interest me. Overall, she didn't open her own life up enough and didn't have enough vulnerability to make her compelling. Instead, I felt like I was talking to a college friend with whom I'd lost touch: she told me some of the details, but not all and mostly in a positive-to-self way.

Journal Entry 8 by wingAzukiwing at Miami, Florida USA on Friday, June 28, 2013
Yay a foodie book. Thanks! Selected from a bookbox on BookObsessed.

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