Title: Server at Restaurant Iris.
What was your first food related job? Outback Steakhouse; age 16, in Southaven. Dishwasher.
How did you get to be a server? I worked my way up through the ranks, I suppose. I did most of the kitchen jobs. I bused, and hosted and I ended up serving. Not all there (at Outback), but through various restaurants.
What makes a good server? Anticipating a guest's needs before they even realize that they have that need.
What is the best part of being a server? We get to play host to a lot of people's very special occasions, and I think it's fun to facilitate that and to make it a good time and make sure people enjoy their special days.
Who's the biggest celebrity you've ever waited on? Probably Robert De Niro. City Winery in TriBeCa. He's the head of the TriBeCa Film Festival. Or (American composer) Philip Glass. Same place. ... He (De Niro) was quiet. He wasn't very concerned with me. He had his own personal bartender standing at the table next to him. I really just brought his food. ... He (Glass) was very soft spoken, very gentle and very kind.
What's one of your favorite memories being a server? When people come to me and actually make a point to express how grateful they are for making them have a great evening, I think that's priceless. It makes me glad to be in the business.
What are some of your interests outside of working in a restaurant? I'm spread awfully thin in my interests. ... I'm into scuba diving, fencing. I brew beer. I studied wine formally for a few years, so I'm very passionate about wine. Love computers. I (study) Japanese and Spanish. ... I play the guitar. ... I just finished my last day of school in the United States today (at the University of Memphis, majoring in Japanese). I'm off to Tokyo. I'm gonna do one more year (at) KCP International (Language Institute) in Shinjuku, Tokyo. ... It's an intensive Japanese language school to get me up to speed to at least fluent level in Japanese. ... I'm planning on opening a business.
Restaurant Iris is at 2146 Monroe; (901) 590-2828.
-- Michael Donahue: (901) 529-2797; firstname.lastname@example.org