Waiter to the Rich and Shameless is not just a peek into the secretive inner workings of a legendary, world-famous 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 and Hollywood-centric dining establishment while fighting to maintain a sense of self and purpose.
Waiter as Hollywood Mole -- With a Heart
I was surprised at how much this story affected me. It's an easy read; Hartford is an engaging storyteller, and he's working behind the holy gates of Hollywood which is intriguing enough on its own. But his own personal journey captured me too. While he's admiring his famous and "shameless" guests as a fan, he's also critical of himself and the entire machine of entitlement, and because of this he grows as a waiter and as a man. His story ends on an upbeat and encouraging note, and I really enjoyed seeing him find himself personally and professionally.
The relatable human side wasn't what I was expecting in a book laced with anecdotes about everyone from George Clooney to Russell Crowe to Paris Hilton, P Diddy, Seth McFarlane, Rod Stewart, Nicole Kidman, Roger Waters and everyone in between.
A really interesting and engaging mix of Hartford's internal human journey and his exciting Tinseltown experiences. -Oceaniceys
5.0 out of 5 stars
like a detective solving a crime
December 20, 2014
By Writing Down Pat
“Check please!” This satisfying serving of celebrity dish and meaty “where is my life going” angst will fill the bill for a delicious tale. Follow “Pauli” on his journey of discovery from rock musician with lots of boy band hair and attitude to haughty server to the rich and shamelessly obnoxious. Meet celebrities without the protective handlers and camera lens that separate them from reality. Try to figure out the real name of the restaurant/bar in Hollywood; accompany Pauli to orgies and the Italian adventure of a lifetime. Only the names are changed to protect the author from legal consequences. That’s okay. You’ll figure it out. Buon appetite!
This is a true story but told through the eyes of a pseudonymous main character and a disguised (due to legal consequences) setting. The rich and shameless are exposed and you’ll recognize all of them, even though they will be without their publicity agents and handlers. You’ll be trying to figure out the real name of the restaurant and the real identity of the waiter, like a detective solving a crime. Clues abound so pay attention.
Follow “Pauli” along an evolutional 10-year journey from disillusioned rock musician to semi-invisible waiter in Hollywood’s premier celebrity haunt. As a waiter, he’s in a position to get “up close and personal” with stage and film luminaries. He is witness to their behavior, sometimes abhorrent, often obnoxious, but occasionally classy and kind. If you’ve ever wondered how your favorite superstar behaves when there’s no camera or spotlight, you’ll grab this book and devour it like candy.
Pauli is of two minds: he believes he has the talent and good looks to succeed as a rock star, but he also loves (and is very dedicated to) his newfound passion of providing world class top tier service to those who are willing to pay for it.
The setting for much of the story is a barely-disguised restaurant/bar that everyone would recognize immediately. It’s an enclave of secluded exclusive privacy for those who crave pampering, have the means to afford it, and sometimes don’t mind abusing. Pauli knows he’s in a rarified atmosphere, struggles to make sense of the dichotomy – the clash of cinematic and stage greatness, and the petty debauchery that makes mockery of the stars of old. He often wonders what classy Frank Sinatra would think of today’s crass insincere celebrities.
No matter how much he learns, how well he does his job, and how much money he makes, there’s always a part of his brain that is hard-wired to the world of rock music. Money, cocaine, wild sex, and even a true romance can’t fill the void left when his long hair hit the barbershop floor.
No luggage or passport needed on this journey of discovery, only the cost of admission.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Savvy observers will be able to easily identify the venue
January 23, 2015
The Waiting Game
"Waiter to the Rich and Shameless" is an insider's look at what really goes on behind the scenes at a legendary Beverly Hills watering hole at the epicenter of the Los Angeles entertainment establishment. Savvy observers will be able to easily identify the venue. Hint: “The Cricket Room” is not its actual name.
“The Cricket Room” is THE place where celebrities go to see and be seen. It's where they relax far away from the watchful eyes of a prying public. It's where they make deals and prove they can spend more money for a meal and beverages than the patrons of Mortons of Chicago ever would. Some civilians pop in when they're in town for a rare in-person glimpse of their favorite A-listers.
"Paul Hartford" knows the scene well. He was part of it as a bartender, and then a waiter, for more than a decade. He gives you a picture of what goes on inside people's heads – the famous, infamous, and those who serve them.
"It was cool during my training to learn that the Cricket Room bar uses the old-fashioned, classic ‘Club Service,’ says Paulie, the book’s narrator. “The whole presentation of even the simplest drink was one of elegance, class, and sophistication." This is what the patrons expect but Paulie also reveals the way the sausage of elegant service is made. He also shows us the raw commercial considerations that are hidden agenda of the establishment’s corporate overlords.
As far as the patrons are concerned, Paulie describes them, essentailly, as swimming in an “infinite sea of sin.” If the Hotel California had a room like this it would be something very close to “The Cricket Room.”
A typical night might include a visit by Brad Pitt during the filming of Troy. After he, ironically, had torn his Achilles tendon while playing Achilles in the epic film. He was, we learn, not as difficult as many of his peers. Celebs, their friends and entourages, gossiping and holding court, often behave badly, like Russell Crowe who comes off as a misplaced, non-obese Henry the Eighth in modern dress. The bizarre becomes seems to be normal any place celebrities gather in the LA Basin. This is especially true at “The Cricket Room.”
Hartford describes some of the guests as having had enough plastic surgery to actually scare people. “Imagine it up close. It’s even worse. Put down the scalpel and pick up a cheeseburger for Christ’s sake.”
Paulie’s comments often resemble the patter of a stand-up comedian on a good night. His description of an encounter with Ozzie Osbourne is particularly good for a belly laugh. He knows that when you serve ruthless people, a/k/a the rich and shameless, you have to take the good with the bad. The recently Sony hacked email scandal confirms the accuracy of His observations. You won't read it and weep but you may laugh frequently. This may be the only way to truly enjoy a book that masters the black humor style of a 60s novel while giving us a glimpse of life at the top of the show biz pile-up.
Welcome inside the legendary Cricket Room.
Prompted by his years as a top-tier restaurant employee, “Pauli” dishes on the challenges of serving iconic celebrities, moguls and politicians. What started as a much-needed do-over after the disbanding of a rock band, led to this coming-of-age story.
Replete with name-dropping of some of Hollywood’s elite actors who drink too much, walk out on checks, and in many ways express their disdain for the hired servants, Waiter to the Rich and Shameless is worthy of its own web series.
Even so, this isn’t a victim’s account of the worst of the worst in Hollywood. Through all of the stress and drama, Pauli manages to entertain and, eventually, find his inner peace.
Goodness Mfonido rated it 5 of 5 stars
Entertaining & Revealing.
This was a great read that I'd recommend to any lover of Hollywood and celebs, but this book goes way beyond the sensational tell all. The well-written book keeps the reader engaged from start to finish as Mr. Hartford explores his time at The Cricket Room and all of the truly shocking events that he bore witness to. Once I started this book I really couldn't put it down, it's the kind of addictive memoir that you just have to read all in one setting because it's just too good to walk away from.
Paul Hartford has a sassy, engaging, fast-paced and entertaining writing style that makes this a book true treat to read. Engaging read, highly recommended.
Sam Turner rated it 5 of 5 stars
Books that sensationalise the “tell-all” tale for a gossip-magazine crazy society tend to be a bit gaudy, but Waiter to the Rich and Shameless manages to pull it off with humour, albeit sometimes tongue in cheek, and a touch of class. We get a first-hand look behind the scenes into the type of place that attracts the likes that us mere mortals only ever get to see on our TV or movie screens. We experience the journey made through Pauli Hartford’s life as he climbs the ranks and learns how to deal with this sink or swim celebrity culture. A great read.
Artichoke rated it 4 of 5 stars
I've recently been trying to read newer authors and I lucked into this book because I've worked in Hollywood for several years (and regret it) and always enjoy peeks into its rarefied world.
I really enjoyed the tone and direction of the story, because at its heart it's about the narrator's journey into self-discovery while his day job is waiting upon the Rich and Shameless - or, those we assume have already "found" themselves.
At first he's just a jaded and snarky musician trying to pay the bills, but he ends up circulating in a world very few of us ever see. What that association does to his thinking and his personality are very telling, but what matters more is where it takes him. By the end of the story he has evolved in to a more complex and likeable character with whom I could empathize even more so than I did at the beginning.
I feel like I lived the story with him, and it was a rewarding journey.
Marc Harbin rated it 5 of 5 stars
A "tell all" book with some class. The book goes into detail about celebrities, not just the latest gossip type things, but the author give habits and quirks as well as behavior of celebrities. To balance out the information you see the struggle of what it is to wait on them.
If you love Hollywood and celebrities this is a great read. The writing is top notch and its a great story of self discovery. Highly recommended.
by Fat Kid Haha
I loved this book. The author gives his insight on what truly happens in the food industry while working as a waiter. While there are millions of people working in the food industry, this book is unique in that Paul works with celebrities. In the Cricket Room is where this book takes place and it was awesome to get some insight on the career that Paul had and his experiences. As someone who previously worked in the field, this book connected with me and I found myself intrigued!
Review by: Annaleichuchu
I loved this book! As a former waiter, I have my fair share or stories of what happened while I was working. However, Paul's stories are a lot more interesting! Paul worked at the Cricket Room and had tons of run-ins with celebrities. He unleases some of secrets of what really happened during his encounters while working at the Cricket Room. There are millions of waiters out there, but nobody has a great of a story as Paul does as he has served many celebrities. I liked reading this book because it was realistic and a lot of fun to read. I hope the author will write more books like this and tell more kept secrets!