THE COOLER star Maria Bello once picked up a gong she's not very proud of - New York City's "worst waitress".

While the Philadelphia native has been quick to pick up awards and nominations for her acting, she admits that her pre-stardom waitressing skills failed to impress newspaper journalists conducting an unusual survey.

She says, "It's something I'm not terribly proud of now... It was like 15 years ago and I worked at this little restaurant in (Greenwich) Village, which I won't name. It was a fantastic restaurant, but we were all a little, not nice to customers.

"I was like the girl from Philly running around in army boots, just an angry girl. I had a major chip on my shoulder."