1 PARIS CONFIDENTIAL
Even the world’s most glamorous places can be the site of crummy jobs. Witness A Waiter in Paris: Adventures in the Dark Heart of the City, Briton Edward Chisholm’s unvarnished memoir chronicling his four back-breaking years slinging haute grub in the French capital. In 2011, a desperate and broke Chisholm memorized a few stock French phrases and landed a job as a busboy in a chic bistro, while nurturing dreams of writing. He discovered that life “on the other side of the swinging door marked ‘PRIVÉ’, was brutal: vindictive managers, assaultive chefs, frantic co-workers clamouring for tips, interminable hours, scant food (ironically) and undocumented staff too terrified to complain. Yet a camaraderie developed as Chisholm ascended the ranks and slowly mastered the language, while tunnelling into the seldom-seen soul of workaday Paris. Yet Chisholm was able to enjoy the famed sights. “Paris is a city that inspires you to walk,” he writes. And eat. Perhaps there’s a perverse comfort in knowing your snooty French waiter is maybe not so much judge-y and xenophobic as starving, exhausted and feebly remunerated, despite the perceived cachet of his role in the planet’s most divine metropolis.