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Waiter to the Rich and Shameless is not just a peek into the secretive inner workings of a legendary five-star restaurant; it is not just a celebrity tell-all or a scathing corporate analysis. It is a top-tier waiter's personal coming-of-age story, an intimate look into the complicated challenges of serving in the country's most elite, Hollywood-centric dining room while fighting to maintain a sense of self and purpose.
Of the many millions of food service workers around the globe, only a tiny number ever ascend to a top-level position at a world-renowned restaurant catering to iconic celebrities, moguls, and politicians. As one of those select few, Paul ("Pauli") Hartford is the first waiter to open the door into a cloistered, coveted world of money, fame, bad behavior, and intrigue. He peels back the veneer of civility and culture at the nation's most preeminent celebrity hangout, the Cricket Room, in Beverly Hills, California. He exposes the epic human foibles of its elite clientele, the dining room's corrupt corporate culture, its clandestine culinary practices, and the heartbreaking struggles of its beleaguered waitstaff.
This keenly-observed story also traverses Pauli's 10-year evolution from a jaded, party-hungry rock musician who moonlights as a bartender, into a snobbish and pretentious waiter, and finally into a polished and sophisticated server who takes his job so seriously that it drives him to the brink of illness. Pauli finds himself at first seduced by his famous guests' glamour and self-indulgence, then accustomed to it, and finally appalled by it.
For obvious reasons, some details and specifics about the real Cricket Room have been cleverly disguised, but discerning listeners will easily connect the dots.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Maia C. Larkin on 02-17-17
Not what I imagined
What disappointed you about Waiter to the Rich and Shameless?
There were so many rave reviews posted for this book that I was extremely disappointed to find that I completely disagree. Maybe I was hoping for another Kitchen Confidential, but this is a far cry from Bourdain. There's a difference between irreverence and immaturity, and for me the sense of humor just isn't there. His random literary and cultural references are ill-informed and often just off base. I found the author's voice puerile and when he stands in judgement of his clientele (when, that is, he isn't self-righteously defending them against his superiors) it's difficult to understand why he believes himself in a position to judge. The drug-fueled orgies, boob-centric sexual fantasies and hair metal waffling makes it difficult to find credibility in his blatantly subjective brand of moral judgement, not to mention that he can't resist boasting about the size of his erection. And, yes, he calls it by a proper name.
Has Waiter to the Rich and Shameless turned you off from other books in this genre?
No. I'm hoping for better.
What three words best describe James Patrick Cronin’s performance?
The performance is fine.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Disappointment. Though I now have a different career, I've done my time as a service professional in high end restaurants in a high end resort. I find the author's blatant disrespect for the kitchen in a dining establishment of this caliber to be particularly off-putting. The servers are a big part of the equation, yes, but the chef, sous chef and line cooks are at very least an equal part of that same equation, and, whether or not one likes them personally, to show zero respect for what they do, their training, skill level, and the difficulty of their job, is dismissive, arrogant and ignorant in the extreme.
70 of 75 people found this review helpful
By Emma G on 02-11-17
Very funny and sometimes sad
Any additional comments?
For those of us who’ve worked in corporate, one can easily relate to the author’s dismay with the management mentality that he felt ruined his favorite job ever. This story is loaded with celeb stories and a superb ending. Hope to hear more from Mr. Hartford soon.
25 of 27 people found this review helpful