A Waiter in Paris: Adventures in the Dark Heart of the City by Edward Chisholm

A Waiter in Paris: Adventures in the Dark Heart of the City by Edward Chisholm is a memoir like I’ve never experienced.  Usually, a memoir is written by a famous person, or someone wealthy, or someone who has made a brilliant discovery and must tell the world, or at least someone we have heard about in some fashion, somewhere. Edward Chisholm is none of these. But this is a memoir that you don’t want to miss. This is a memoir that may well be destined for the screen, so do yourself a favour: read the book first. Meet first-time book author Edward Chisholm as I met him, within the pages of his captivating book.

” I opened A Waiter in Paris to find a cultural dumpster dive – a deep, penetrating, spiral into the other side of the City of Lights – the dark side, the underbelly, the other side of the illusion.”

Let me offer a brief introduction to this intriguing new author. Paris, at the beginning of winter, is where we meet English author, Edward Chisholm. Newly single, non-French speaking, he is desperate for work, and running out of everything necessary to live in Paris: money. How bad can it be? He is in one of the most well-known places on Earth, a place where dreams are made and come true, where history is on every street corner, where people are elegant, and food is exquisitely prepared and served. PARIS. The Paris of my dreams. But for Edward Chisholm, things are not of a tourist’s delightful fantasy.  

 I opened A Waiter in Paris to find a cultural dumpster dive – a deep, penetrating, spiral into the other side of the City of Lights – the dark side, the underbelly, the other side of the illusion. Inside A Waiter in Paris, I meet the author, university graduate Edward Chisholm, with a burning desire to become a waiter in Paris. A Paris in November 2011, after the financial crisis of three years earlier, and before the future worldwide pandemic of late 2019. What I discovered in this book was a fascinating collection of real-life characters working inhumane hours, trying to keep themselves above the grasping claws of poverty, walking a fine line between management and co-workers, while doing the gracious dance of the food service waiter – getting the food ordered by customers out of the kitchen and onto their tables. And making it look so easy. A dance, I find out, which is as close to an illusion as one can possibly imagine. The beauty of Paris is stripped, yet miraculously upheld, as I descended into Chisholm’s engrossing account of a Paris I’d never imagined. I will look upon dining out anywhere in the world with new eyes. My eyes have been appropriately snapped open.

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These people, waiters, who are ‘the invisible’, have had a light shone on them. They have gathered together in Paris at Le Bistrot de la Seine from many corners and cultures of the world. What I found in A Waiter in Paris was not only these people’s differences defined, but their similarities reconciled into a microcosm. This is a brilliant insider recollection, thundering forward in small snippets of chapters revealing every hidden corner of the Le Bistro, which incredibly parallels the world of Paris itself. There within the food and dining-related episodes, are the flesh-and-blood characters of the food service industry – complete with their humanity and inhumanity. And, along with these unforgettable people, the restaurant itself is a character, existing within an even larger character- Paris. Edward Chisholm has an important story to tell, and it’s told in a fast-paced, cleverly woven style. A true story, a non-fiction tapestry, a page-turner that I could not put down. Pick up a copy of A Waiter in Paris: Adventures in the Dark Heart of the City by Edward Chisholm and get ready to fast-track yourself to Paris and straight into a dumpster dive where you come away with plenty of internal treasure. It’s the City of Lights with the lights turned way up so you can see everything- and realize that it was there all the time. 


EDWARD CHISHOLM was born in Dorset, England, and moved to Paris in 2012 after graduating from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. A resident there for seven years, Chisholm spent the first four of them working all manner of low-paid jobs, from waiting and bar work to museum security and market hand, while trying to build a career as a writer. Now, Chisholm makes a living as a copywriter/pen for hire, with ambitions of writing novels. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, and the Financial Times.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Anansi International (Aug. 9 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 384 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1487007930
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1487007935

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