Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Paul Hartford, author of Waiter to the Rich and the Shameless, sold as number one in Amazon's pop culture category. Paul teases his pseudo-memoir as:
"...not just a peek into the secretive inner workings of a legendary 5-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."
So who makes an appearance in this book?
Paul: Seth MacFarlane, Paris Hilton, Russell Crowe, Russell Brand, Johnny Depp, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Bruce Willis, Penelope Cruz, Rod Stewart, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford etc. etc. etc. the list is too long.
Are you worried about being sued because you do mention the clients by name?
Paul: I consulted both with a libel attorney and an employment attorney before publishing my book. Yes, I am worried about being sued. I had to disguise many facts in order to publish this book, but luckily my attorney advised me that the names of all celebrities could stay on the page. Per my Preface in the book:
"The events in this story are all true and celebrities’ names have not been altered. According to my lawyer I didn’t need to do so. However, the names of my co-workers have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty. And, the name of the establishment has been altered – mostly to protect myself from their powerful hand – at the request of my attorney whose job it is to protect me from lawsuits. You’d better be right, Esquire junior. But then, you'll probably figure it out since it wouldn’t take the Riddler from Batman to decode this one."
Had you been a waiter before this job?
Paul: Yes for several years off and on during my fluctuating music career. You don’t get to serve the Rich and Shameless without quite a bit of prior experience.
Why did you choose to write a story about your personal growth instead of only anecdotes on celebrities?
Paul: It was meant for the 2.4 million food servers who work in the US plus untold numbers worldwide. For many years, I never thought outside the box and didn't realize that food-server jobs existed on this level - in terms of clientele and income bracket. My hopes are that this book will inspire artists who have thrown in the towel for a 9 to 5 job to dive deep and find faith in themselves.
On the flip side, I also hope to inspire people who have crappy server jobs to up their game and sharpen their knowledge and skills to find a career job in the industry. These jobs exist in almost every city where there is a wealthy population, a ritzy country club or restaurant, or even better an expensive hotel. All you have to do is prepare, then seek out the top in your surrounding area.
How did you choose the cover?
Paul: I liked the idea of a waiter serving up his own head on a platter to his guests. It’s the way I’ve felt at times...