Waiter divulges 'nightly grotesquerie' of working at America's best restaurant

A former fine dining server named Edward Frame penned a telling of what it’s like to work in one of the world’s most illustrious temples of fine dining — and it ain’t pretty.

Though Frame doesn’t reveal the name of the restaurant in his story, entitled “Dinner and Deception” and published by The New York Times, the website Eater has identified it as Eleven Madison Park, otherwise known as the fourth best restaurant in the world and the No. 1 restaurant in North America, according to the 2015 World’s Best Restaurant List.

Frame describes his evenings serving the super-rich as “nightly grotesquerie” and himself as an “overpaid chaperone in a bespoke suit.”

Here are some of the juiciest reveals from the tell-all.

  • Waiters are quizzed at random with questions like, “Where did Chef get his first Michelin star?” and “What kind of stone is the floor made of?” before service begins.
  • A “digital dossier” is kept on every guest. Notes include: water preference, whether the diner likes spendy wines, if they have food allergies, and general likes and dislikes.
  • Waiters play games like “hooker or daughter” to guess the relationshps between diners.
  • There’s also an “adjective game,” wherein waiters try and sell wines using “the least helpful descriptors possible.” Frame writes that “haunted” always worked.
  • “Grown men wearing Zegna and Ferragamo would sit at the bar chanting, ‘We are the 1 per cent!'”
  • Sex is as common as gluttony. Frame says he had to “interrupt coitus in the restroom” more than once.
  • A woman once tried to leave her baby at coat check — for three hours.
  • A regular diner who ate like King Henry VIII collapsed in the middle of the dining room and the staff’s first reaction was no to call an ambulance, but to conceal the body with a Champagne cart.

You can read Frame’s entire story here.

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