Service Included by Phoebe Damrosch

/ posted in: FoodReading Service Included by Phoebe DamroschService Included by Phoebe Damrosch
Published by HarperCollins on September 25th 2007
Genres: Biography & Autobiography
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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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.

Yeah, so there’s that.

Then there was this sentence on page 7 describing some time in France.

“I discovered a woman who made sausages from donkey meat, and I lived on baguettes and sausage for my remaining time there.”

No.  Just no.  I love donkeys and not for lunch.  When I read that sentence for the first time my eyes lingered on the “donkey meat” and I figured the rest of the sentence would contain abject horror.  Nope, I was in the wrong book for that.

Not sausage makings

The story in the book was interesting when it talked about the service requirements and training to open a potential 4 star restaurant.  It is a world I can’t even imagine and probably will never experience based on the menus discussed in the book.  (They did have a vegetable tasting menu that was briefly mentioned.  I just looked it up and it is purely vegetarian.  I was suspicious that they might cook the vegetables in veal stock and the tears of baby unicorns.  If I want to spend $310 a person, I can go try it.)

There isn’t a lot here about intrigue in the restaurant.  It hardly mentions the people cooking.  It is mostly about weeks of training to be able to answer any question a guest may have including all the facts about everything that could be seen out the windows and all about the suppliers of the ingredients of the meals.

I need a break from reading about people who love to eat fish cheeks and bone marrow.  Tomorrow I’m posting a list of food books that won’t crush a poor vegetarian’s soul.

About Phoebe Damrosch

“Phoebe Damrosch is a writer living in Brooklyn. Her first book, Service Included, was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 2007.

She has written for the New York Times, Food and Wine, the Daily News, and has been featured in the Financial Times, Entertainment Weekly, Elle, American Way, Eating Well, the New York Post, and Slate.” from her website