This was a very fun read! Found in the biography section of the West Orange library, it’s the “four-star secrets of an eavesdropping waiter” who worked her way up the food-chain (as it were) from a (Brooklyn) neighborhood joint to be a (the first female) Captain at the NYC (Manhattan) restaurant of Chef Thomas Keller (of The French Laundry [in California] fame) called Per Se.
It was a very engaging personal account of her thoughts & feelings about everything from haute cuisine to romantic relationships. It was especially interesting to go through the whole New York Times review process (with [famous/important] critic Frank Bruni)!
And then, at the end, she details the (amazing) (fabulous) 17-course (!) (six-hour!) dinner that she enjoyed there, after she had moved on to pursue other (e.g., writing) interests.
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.”