A downandout musician chops off his hair to become a server at the top of the Hollywood food chain, discovering a cloistered world of money, fame, bad behavior and intrigue Waiter to the Rich and Shameless is not just a peek into the secretive inner workings of a legendary star restaurant; it is not just a celebrity tellall or a scathing corporate analysis It is a toptier waiter's personal comingofage story, an intimate look into the complicated challenges of serving in the country's most elite, Hollywoodcentric 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 toplevel position at a worldrenowned 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 keenlyobserved story also traverses Pauli's tenyear evolution from a jaded, partyhungry 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 selfindulgence, 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 readers will easily connect the dots


10 thoughts on “Waiter to the Rich and Shameless

  1. John John says:

    The only thought that comes to me is the writer's expression 'I love me, who do you love?'

    This is a tale of how good this fella considers himself to be as a waiter in a poshy restaurant and how much better it (and the world) would be if he ran it. As well, he places his customers on his ladder on the basis of how much he gets as a tip for his service. Full stop.

    5% of the book breaks from the story line to describe either the outfits worn by the customers or the ingredients of the meal/s on menu.

    I was extremely tempted to quit reading after the first 4 or 5 chapters but I thought I'd find out if he managed to get a halo implanted to shine above his head in recognition of his own skills.

    Don't bother.


  2. Mike Zickar Mike Zickar says:

    I enjoyed a lot about this book. . . the author writes fascinatingly about evenings serving a mixture of celebrities including Rod Stewart, Russell Crowe, Johnny Depp, and nearly all Hollywood stars and moguls (surprise, Donald Trump was a jerk). He also does a good job describing the tension between a corporate run establishment where macro decisions are made from people in a faraway place, while staff are stuck trying to maintain their own dignity and preserve the culture that made the restaurant and its workplace culture a special place.

    But a couple of things. . . first, the book could have used a bunch of editing. Although the author's European honeymoon sounds amazing, most readers picked up the book to read about his experiences waiting tables, not to get travel tips. The writing can be self-indulgent at times. Also, the author has a real juvenile attitude toward women. Throughout the book, I can see him grappling with that. It seems like he has grown up throughout the timespan covered in this book, and seems to have a nice respectful marriage, a true union of partners. But why maintain the old sexist language that he once used? Calling women girls, focusing on the size of breasts, using the metaphor something was as good as great porn. This language just became wearing and tiresome and offensive.

    There you have it. I applaud Mr. Hartford on writing a good first book. I think his editor should have helped him tone done some of his excesses.


  3. Becky Becky says:

    I HATED this book. I hated the pretentiousness of the writer and the absolutely foul language. I don't know what possessed me to buy it, because it's nothing but a bunch of name-dropping by a wannabe rock star loser. Wow, was this awful.


  4. Xia Xia Xia Xia says:

    How do you rate the life of a man?
    I sincerely have no idea.
    This might very well be the first and last autobiography I ever read.

    Should I rate the cussing and the disrespectful descriptions of the famous guests dining at the Cricket Room just because I don't approve? Then I would be a total hypocrite. When I read fiction I prefer the book to be written in the voice of the character, not in the voice of the author. Why should I judge a non-fiction book differently, if that was the real voice of the author?

    Should I rate the wow factor of the stories presented in the book about the rich and shameless? I found out Russell Crowe walks around with a possy and entertains like a king holding court. Johnny Depp knows his wine, Kate Hudson has a nice ass, Colin Farrell tips like an European and Gore Vidal was charming till his last days. The children of the Beverly Hills billionaires acted like arrogant entitled pricks and the abandoned ex-wives of the rich men of Beverly Hills were absolutely pitiful to read about. I did not care for any of these stories, but why should I take it out on the book because it didn't meet the level of scandal I was looking for? Maybe I'm just weird and too demanding and have read too much strange stuff and have now become jaded.

    What I did enjoy reading about were the author's escapades with Jens. Jens, the waiter, was a gangbanging, coke sniffing, party craving maniac who could look as neat as a button after a several days of hard partying. He was just like that colleague I once had when I was a competing swimmer, who could drink the entire night before an important competition, then spill his guts by the pool and casually win the gold medal. I usually had to take days off to recover after one lost night partying, so f**k that guy!

    I also enjoyed reading about the passion the author had for his work. There is this book called Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Miller that says “A warrior does not give up what he loves, he finds the love in what he does” and “It doesn’t matter what you do, only how well you do it.” Paul Hartford seemed to have loved his job at the Cricket Room and took pleasure from doing his job very well and I have nothing but respect for that.

    I found out that reading about the drinks and the fancy dishes prepared for the rich and famous felt more exciting to me than the stories inside the Cricket Room. If you are a foodie I recommend this book to you.

    3.75 stars-ish...

    A copy was provided for review via Booktasters NonFiction.


  5. Billie Billie says:

    This was a fun read and one I shared with people almost the entire time I was reading it. I loved the celebrity encounters...hey, I'm that kind of girl and not shy to admit it. I also bartended and waitressed for a couple years, so that made the story that more interested...although I never waited on the rich. Shameless, maybe, but not rich.

    I'd like to thank all the reviews prior to mine who said that Pauli's restaurant was probably the Polo Lounge because I had no idea and really wanted to know. As such, I'm going to research it a bit and probably add a dinner there to my bucket list...based solely on this book.

    Five stars if Paul would've had even more celebrity stories...I loved hearing where he went with his life, about his honeymoon that changed his outlook on life, his interest in meditating, etc., but I read the book for the silly, fun, unacceptable celebrity encounters.

    And I was glad to hear a GOOD story about Russell Crowe.

    Read this if you're into pop culture, seeing how the other half live, want an introduction to wine, like reading about food. This book has it all.


  6. Angela Angela says:

    I wasn't impressed with this book beyond the writer's dedication to service. He was lengthy in unnecessary details and crude in his language. If I had to read the word 'crap' one more time, I was going to do it. I've waited tables before and have the utmost respect for all in the service industry. I just wish this was less about his cocaine and sex fueled life and more about actual Hollywood tales. He wasn't reporting anything people didn't already know.


  7. J.P. Willson J.P. Willson says:

    Truthfully I am not sure where to begin.
    Having worked in the food-service industry for thirty-five plus years, there was something that was just 'off' throughout the entire book. It was not until I read the authors epilogue, yup the end of the book, this is where I became offended.
    ...but to pay the bills I kept falling back into my old ways:service jobs.
    ...finally decided that day that I can't be that buttoned-up fucking cardboard figure of a waiter or butler...
    My apologies to anyone in the industry that had to read this drivel that would make their chosen career appear to be meaningless and subservient. The author worked as a waiter and a bartender for what I can figure from his description- ten plus years if not many more than that. I'm sorry Mr. Hartford, you had a passion for the industry just like the rest of us you have referred to as 'peons' (my words not the authors) do because we have chosen this as our lifestyle.
    I personally don't give a crap whether you're serving some famous self-indulgent snot, or whether it's your neighbor- each person deserves the same respect. As a professional in this industry if you do not realize this little fact than you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.
    I found the book itself to be redundant, the repetition of the practices of service, the stemware the plate-ware, the constant descriptions of the same things over and over with each new story of the wealthy clienteles asinine behavior, unnecessary. Why the wedding in Italy was even a part of the book eluded me.
    To be honest, I would have been more worried about offending your supposed friends in the industry than I would have been about getting sued for printing the actual name of the Polo Lounge as mentioned in the beginning of the book.


  8. Pippa Pippa says:

    If you are a celebrity or a foodie fan then you will love this!

    Ever wondered what celebrities get up to when we are not watching, wouldn’t you love to get a glimpse behind closed doors to judge their behaviour when the public aren’t looking? Paul Hartford takes us on a bird’s eye tour of the celebrity A and B list and shares with us not only his thoroughly entertaining memoirs but some amazing food and wine menus too. This book satisfies on so many levels, I loved reading about the celebrities and their dinner guests, but what really made this book was Paul’s story.
    I worked in the service industry myself for many years and the author describes it exactly how it is, long hours, psychotic chefs and exhausted staff that grin and bear their way through the shift until eventually your knees give way and you can no longer stand for sixteen hours a day. All the heat and passion of the kitchen during service described perfectly. My favourite quote “The guests pretended to be polite, we pretended to give a shit and everyone went home happy.” Fantastic!


  9. Leah Leah says:

    This is the story of one man's work as a waiter at the Cricket Room in Beverly Hills, which I believe is actually the Polo Lounge. The stories are real. The names of the actors are not changed. It's an interesting read, but it's also everything I hate about LA and Hollywood. His stories of some actors are highly amusing, others make me think this guy doesn't have a very good read on character. And he seems like a little bit of a jerk at times. One thing is for sure though, he loves his job and takes it very seriously. In the end, the restaurant he loved and served so well becomes too corporate, losing a bit of its humanity, eventually causing him to blow up and leave. His memories are fond, and the stories are fun to read, but this should have been edited down to be half its size.


  10. Beryl Beryl says:

    If someone had made a movie called 'Confessions of a Beverly Hills Waiter' and set it in today's celebrity world, this book should have been what it was based on. Hilarious, disturbing or just downright peculiar, these tales of incidents where high profile celebrities show themselves to be anything from a total jackass to even more of an angel than their publicist portrayed them are told firsthand by a man working in *that* restaurant in Beverly Hills (if you've been there you'll easily recognise it from the hints in the book!). We've always known that money can't buy everything - this books shows that although it definitely helps with many things, it sure doesn't buy class! Loved it - when's the sequel coming out?!