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per se

Service Included - what can health care learn from a four star resturant?

On this week's Splendid Table Podcast (and radio show) Lynn interviewed Phoebe Damrosch, author of Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter (New York Times Notable Books) ">. Phoebe worked her way from a waiter to captain at Thomas Keller's Per Se restaurant. I recently posted our menus from a meal at Per Se in December and remarked that the service made the experience. I have not read Service Included yet, but my copy is on order. Listening to Damrosh speak about the training and execution of world class service was inspiring. It has made me wonder - what can we learn from that level of service?

In healthcare, my other passion, we often talk about having a compassionate presence. But if you have ever spent any time in a busy ER, either as a patient, family member or part of a care-giving team, you can relate to how challenging that environment often is. While it would be inappropriate to suggest that the work of a world class restaurant is on par with that of an emergency room, there are some important similarities. Both center around a busy, highly skilled core with support staff working both the 'front' and 'back' of the 'room'. It is a dance that when executed perfectly looks like a Viennese waltz (something Damrosch says was part of their training, how they learn to move around a room).

I am the first to admit that in a clinically demanding situation, I get out of the way ASAP. But during those other times - the elderly person walking in the door, the family member with a lost look wondering the halls, the young child being admitted - how can we in healthcare learn from waiters at Per Se? How can we become at once disarmingly personal and staunchly professional?

I am looking forward to reading Service Included as soon as it arrives. Will I share my thoughts here? It would be my pleasure!

Per Se Menus

At the end of December we had the privilege of dining at Per Se, arguably one of the best restaurants in the world. Distilling an experience like Per Se down to an accolade would be to lose everything that Per Se is. I make a point on this site to write about simple food, and while the cuisine at Per Se is anything but simple my comments will endeavor to that point: If you are passionate about food, you need to dine at Per Se.

That's it. Get there.

There are two types of diners at places like Per Se and The French Laundry. Without mincing words, the cost is on par with what one would expect from a world class experience. There is an attraction to that type of opulence for some people. But if you are one of those people who will wait in line at a street cart for the best hot dog in Chicago or risk admonishment from a cabbie to head into the seedy part of Barcelona for the best fried pork rinds, then Per Se is still your kind of place. This is as good as food gets and the passion that the kitchen pours into their work only becomes more apparent when you engage the staff. Just ask if your course was cooked Sous Vide or in the Revolution oven and you will find yourself among friends.

Below, I have attached scanned images of our three menus. The Vegetarian menu - which may be the hardest test of a chef, the Chef's Tasting Menu - an all around sample and the Offal Menu - my choice and while the ingredients may be different for some, the end result was by far my favorite... The menus will speak for themselves and will hopefully serve as further invitation for anyone interested to begin saving, start planning and make a food pilgrimage.

What cannot be represented here and is undoubtedly part of what makes Per Se special is the staff. As a continuing student of customer service- a true art- these ladies and gentlemen make being world class look easy. They are at once disarmingly casual and staunchly professional. They make you feel at home without even knowing they are there.

Vegetarian perse veg2

Chefs Tasting perse chefs

Offal Tasting per se offal