There's more to the annual Met Gala than fashion and celebrities.
Speaking with Insider, Mike Hartman shared what it was like to work as a head dinner server in 2018.
He talked about serving high-profile guests, whether celebrities were kind or rude, and more.
Insider spoke with Mike Hartman, who previously worked as a dinner server at the 2018 Met Gala, to learn more about what it's like inside the event.
Hartman worked specifically as a server for Olivier Cheng Catering in 2018. He served stars including Amal Clooney, Kris Jenner, Jared Leto, Lana Del Rey, and even Anna Wintour herself at the time.
More than a year after the event, he posted a TikTok about his experience, in which he revealed that he went home with a piece of Jennifer Lopez's dress after working the event.
Speaking to Insider, he said attendees moved between rooms of the Metropolitan Museum throughout the event.
"So after celebrities walk the red carpet, they head inside," Hartman said. "That year, they went to the Temple of Dendur first to have their cocktail party. I was not part of that team — it was probably about an hour or so."
"Then the guests went to the American Wing where they were greeted by Katy Perry and the Children's Choir from The Vatican, and were honored with some songs from them," he continued. "After that is when they headed over to the Petrie Court of the museum where dinner was held."
While doing so, they usually take some time to look at the museum's art.
Not only are Met Gala attendees "the first to see" the Costume Institute's annual fashion exhibit, but they also "stop and look around the museum" while moving from room to room, according to Hartman.
"There are escorts guiding them along, but they're allowed to take their time," he said.
Inside, some stars are said to have had a greenroom where they could change outfits.
According to Hartman, some celebrities had greenrooms or "personal rooms to themselves so they can change or do fix-ups" in 2018.
For example, Amal Clooney changed her outfit mid-event out of fear that the tinfoil on her Richard Quinn gown would rip. However, Anna Wintour previously told Stephen Colbert that she did so in the museum gift shop.
"Madonna wasn't at the dinner because she was a surprise guest of the gala, and no one knew until she was revealed after the dinner, so she had her own greenroom," Hartman said. "So did Vogue and some other celebrities."
Other celebrities braved the event in their designer looks, according to Hartman.
Because couture gowns are intricately handmade — and often worked on until the last minute — it's no surprise that some celebrities experience technical difficulties while wearing them.
"JLo's Balmain dress feathers were so funny to see everywhere," Hartman said. "You just knew where JLo walked!"
Regardless of what they wore, not all attendees followed rules imposed by Anna Wintour and Met Gala staff.
For years, news outlets have reported that the Met Gala has rules in place that prevent attendees from taking photos and smoking, among other things, inside the event. According to Hartman, only some of those rules are actually enforced.
"Are people taking pictures and videos? Yes," Hartman said of Met Gala attendees. "Are the caterers taking pictures and videos? No. All of our phones were confiscated, so we literally couldn't."
"But bathroom pictures are totally a thing, and people were taking pictures all night," he continued. "They just aren't allowed to publish until after the red carpet and event."
"There is NO smoking inside though," Hartman said. "We had to tell celebrities that there was a designated smoking area toward the front of the building, and it was a really far distance away. That was our only negative feedback that we received from the guests."
When seated for dinner, attendees were grouped with other stars who were wearing the same designer.
According to Hartman, Anna Wintour and the Met Gala's three co-chairs are responsible for "hosting" tables, which seat approximately 15 to 20 people each. Surrounding those four sections are smaller tables reserved for each designer at the event, "from Chanel to H&M."
"I was serving Anna Wintour and Amal Clooney's table, as well as having the Balmain and Gucci tables," Hartman said.
Caterers had to serve food directly onto the plates of celebrities and high-profile attendees.
Attendees only had approximately one hour to eat dinner at the 2018 Met Gala, according to Hartman. They were also provided with French service that year, meaning caterers were required to place food directly onto their plates.
"It was really, REALLY nerve-wracking because we all individually had to hand-serve each item from the menu onto the plates of the guests, along with the sauces, all with one hand over the back of a throne chair with guests wearing custom-made, highly-expensive, one-of-a-kind garments," he said. "And here we are serving them French service!"
Though Hartman said it was intimidating to serve attendees, he also noted that stars were kind to him.
He was particularly impressed by Anna Wintour, and said she was "so sweet."
"She told me it was really nice to see a familiar face, having personally worked and catered to her at Vogue in the Freedom Tower for years, " Hartman said.
"Stephen Colbert commented to me that he couldn't do what I was doing because he would have spilled on someone by now, and that made me laugh, but didn't calm the nerves down because I knew that's what everyone else was thinking!" he continued.
As it turns out, he left the event with tons of fun stories about his interactions with celebrities.
"While the guests were leaving the dinner space, George Clooney couldn't find Amal because I think he was having too much fun drinking and socializing," Hartman told Insider.
"Ariana Grande had to put her shoes back on since she showed me that she took them off when she arrived for dinner," he added. "She told me to keep it a secret (sorry Ariana!) but I would totally have done the same since her dress covered her feet."
"The last two people to leave, Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen, turned around to our whole catering crew and thanked us all for everything that we did, which was really, really sweet to hear," Hartman said.
Many of the servers were models and actors themselves.
According to Hartman, Olivier Cheng "is known for hiring models and actors."
"Everyone that catered this event was in the industry somehow, and some of my friends even knew some of the guests, so it made the night extra special," he told Insider.
Still, he noted that it felt "like the Twilight Zone" at times, because "when are you ever just walking down the hall of the Met Museum, and you pass Zendaya, Blake Lively, and Nick Jonas all in five seconds?"
"It was truly magnificent," he said.
Despite the effort put in by cooks and caterers, many celebrities left tons of food on their plates that year.
In 2018, attendees were served "a combination of fish and steak with a starch and two veggies," Hartman said. Still, he noted that "no one really ate anything."
"They all were just talking, networking, and enjoying each other's company," he said. "I don't think anyone really comes for the meal — but the food was delicious!"
"Guests usually even waived 'no thank you' to us before we served," he continued. "So we didn't serve as much food as we could have. I'm sure they ate more at the cocktail hour with the hors d'oeuvres."
In 2018, all of the name placards were handwritten.
"Those place cards that were in my TikTok video are all handwritten by a wonderful woman whose name skips me right now, but she wrote every single name on those name cards for about 600 people," Hartman said.
Overall, Hartman said it was both "exciting" and "intimidating" to work at the Met Gala, which he described as being "such a special experience and hopefully not a once-in-a-lifetime thing."
Read the original article on Insider