Your Table Is Ready by Michael Cecchi-Azzolina is a delicious dive into the underworld of restaurant workers with juicy tales giving all the unbelievable dirt of what the staff is up to (and it is quite a lot)! with the soup to nuts of all their high society and celebrity customers.
This can’t put down book tells intimate details of the goings on before, during and after a day of servicing customers, (in more ways than one). Azzolina explains in honest detail why sometimes customers can never get that window table with the beautiful view, or why that twenty does not seem to get you a table without a reservation. He even gives tips on how to do both!
But, for the most part it’s his stories which both amuse and sometimes shock the reader, at least this one! His accounts are from an era long ago, when there were no Human Resource departments and literally anything could happen and there was no one to complain to. It was also sadly during the beginning of the AIDS epidemic a time in which Azzolina lost many of his close co-workers and friends. In one story he explains how close he came to actually getting the disease and by sheer luck did not.
But it all starts when he was a young boy in Brooklyn looking for something to do. While all his friends were doing drugs and dying, he decided to find something else to do and that was working in a local restaurant. This led him to his amazing career. But he honestly admits he was no angel. He tells of the easy access to drugs, alcohol and the abuse which goes along with each. The drinking for the staff did not exactly start after the restaurant closed for the night but could begin as early as when someone got a bit stressed. He admits to doing many things for and to customers to make a little extra money.
But some of his stories are haunting. One in particular is about how he unknowingly made a person in the Mafia mad by innocently kicking a rude customer out at the request of his boss and being stalked and assaulted by him. It would forever change the way he managed rude customers.
The best stories are of course those in which he talks about the celebrities and people we know. The list is impressive…Dustin Hoffman, Madonna, Jackie Gleason, famous models and designers, and a not so nice Anna Wintour anecdote.
As one can imagine, working sometimes 10-to-15-hour shifts can be not only grueling but exhausting, only to have to get up and do the same thing over and over again. Relationships are difficult to maintain, and the last place a staffer wants to be on their day off is on a date at a restaurant.
Your Table Is Ready is not only an enjoyable read but could also be a bible of sorts and a how to (and not to) for those interested in the restaurant business. It’s terrifically gossipy, funny, heartwarming and sometimes cringy. I for one will never enter a restaurant the same way again!
Thank you #NetGalley #St.Martin’sPress #YourTableIsReady # MichaelCecchi-Azzolina for the advanced copy.