Sinar Parman joined the Church of Scientology in 1978 and worked as a personal chef to founder L. Ron Hubbard, his successor David Miscavige, and — on the days he visited Scientology's HQ — Tom Cruise.
Parman says he became so close to Miscavige and Cruise that he was selected to cater Cruise's wedding reception. Parman claims he wasn't paid a fee for the meal and was stiffed on his expenses, he tells Business Insider.
The incident was "one of the last straws" for Parman, who says he then quit the church and fled its California compound with his wife.
His escape from the religion didn't last long — he claims the church's security personnel chased him down and persuaded him to re-enter life inside the secretive church. He remained inside Scientology for 20 more years before becoming disillusioned enough to leave permanently.
Here's Parman's story, told in his own words, which we've edited lightly for brevity and clarity.
Note: We left two messages requesting comment from the Church of Scientology, but have yet to hear back.
I was born in Indonesia but I left there when I was 7 and when to school in the U.S. I went to high school in Los Angeles and then UCLA. I did a chef apprenticeship in Los Angeles because I didn't know what I wanted to do, but everybody needs to eat!
At the same time I got into Scientology. I paid for a lot of courses at the mission and a lot of auditing. I had maybe paid for 400 hours of auditing [a type of counseling]. It was only $50 an hour. I felt like I had a lot of gains. So I changed my career; I wanted to be on staff in Scientology place.
I was on staff at the Los Angeles Org starting in 1977. I was approached by some recruiters and was asked if I wanted to cook for L. Ron Hubbard at La Quinta.
There were security procedures, certainly. You're not supposed to talk to reporters. If there are any people with subpoenas, you're taught how to handle it. There were also rattlesnakes at that time, so we were told how to kill rattlesnakes. In 1977 there was an FBI raid in Los Angeles, so this was 1978. It was basically a secret base. We all had to use fake names.
I was shown around and I met Hubbard outside the kitchen of his house, which was called Rifle. He was bigger than his pictures. He had big mutton chop sideburns and a cowboy hat and dark sunglasses you could see it was him but he was bigger than life. I was in awe. I was a little bit shy. He said hello. I was like wow, I was starstruck. But he was fine. After that I started cooking for him. At that time he was on a fish diet. It was rough. In Palm Springs, Indio, there was nothing around. There was no fresh fish it was all frozen.
NEXT: Hubbard dies, and Parman gets a new boss >
In 1986, Hubbard died and Miscavige took over the church.
David Miscavige took over in '87. In 1988 Miscavige persuaded me to become executive chef for the Gold Base, [near Gilman Hot Springs, Calif.] From '88 to about 1990 I was basically the executive chef. We renovated the main cooking and dining facilities at Gold Base. Three of us feeding 500 people. Miscavige didn't have a personal chef at the time. I was cooking for everyone.
In 1990 when Tom Cruise came by I was assigned as his personal chef. He was doing training, doing courses, he was also getting some auditing. He came with his assistant, Andrea Morris. He had a nice luxury apartment renovated for him. Miscavige set up a whole bunch of facilities for Tom Cruise. He even made a couple of tennis courts. There was a rifle range operated just for Tom Cruise.
Tom Cruise would come in and his cars would be taken care of. Washed, maintained, it was just provided to him, services beyond services. Miscavige got him hooked up with the Feshbach brothers for his investments. They were famous on Wall Street for investing in companies that were [in distress].
Tom was a very nice guy. He was like, a lot of energy, he wasn't pretentious, he was really very cool. He liked a lot of pasta and high energy, complex carb meals. Not much on the red meat, but some of the larger meats, that kind of stuff. It was a very Hollywood diet. He had to keep fit. His body was everything because of his profession. Sometimes he'd like Chinese food, sometimes he'd like lo mein.
John Travolta was there for a while and I cooked for him and also Kirstie Alley. They were cool people. Tom was Mr. Mellow but he liked to eat, let's put it that way. His hamburger was chopped filet mignon. He liked to have clear ice in his drinks, not that they were alcoholic. Little things like that.
Kirstie Alley, she stayed there maybe a week. I had to make noodles from scratch, really thick just like her grandma made it. Chicken noodle soup, so many times. She loved it.
I would do a menu based on their likes and dislikes.
I couldn't tell what Nicole Kidman wanted. I was still trying to figure out that until the end. Some personalities you can't tell what they really like. Some days she liked it and some days she didn't. It wasn't definite.
She was very much more reserved than Tom, not as outgoing. There was one dinner, one meal with Cruise and John Travolta and Kirstie Alley and they were like a raucous bunch and they would try to out-entertain each other. Three A-listers at the time and you get a really loud place, but she wasn't one of those. She was more reserved. I mean she was still laughing.
There was no booze because they had to go into sessions.
Tom stayed the longest time. He stayed there for months. He took off doing films, Days of Thunder, where he met Nicole. He took off for maybe a month and a half to film that in NASCAR country. Then he came and continued doing his thing there.
He was here six to eight months. He was doing the auditor levels from 0 to 4, the lower area before you do any clear and OT levels. He started also some basics courses, “Keys of Life” and “Life Orientation” courses.
NEXT: Parman is asked to cater the Cruise-Kidman wedding >
A trip to Telluride on Cruise's private jet
[In 1990], David Miscavige told me, “Hey you're going to cater for Tom’s wedding in Colorado." After it was over it was, “Oh Dave decided you were not going to be paid by Tom.” It really ticked me off because you know what, my wife and I earned 50 bucks a week. [Staff members of the church work as volunteers for bed and board and a small amount of cash per week.] We had to go to Telluride in winter. It was a matter of buying new clothes for PR purposes, We went there in his private jet he paid for a rental car, hotel room, ski lift tickets, that kind of stuff. We had to go eat in Telluride for however long and it was expensive and we had to cover it personally on our credit cards.
I figured when we get back, we get paid, and I’d pay off my credit cards. It never happened and that's why I left. I left in 1991 with my wife. That was one of the last straws.
I drove off in the night with my wife. I stopped at my parents house in LA. She gave me a bunch of cash to pay off my credit cards. We went up north thru Monterey, stayed in Lake Tahoe and stayed in Carson City where my wife’s distant cousin had a business and I worked for him in a furniture store.
But the church had, like, a couple of private investigators on us. I later found out they basically had my ID stolen. All the mail is opened, my personal mail, they know my bank, all the details of my credit cards, my date of birth, social security number, and my mother’s maiden name.
Suddenly five people showed up on our doorstep, in a house in Carson City. It was early in the morning, 7 or 8 a.m. Several guys come up and they're from Gilman, from Gold Base.
Parman and his wife say they were interrogated by the men at a motel for a week. They were persuaded to rejoin the church.
It lasted for maybe about a week. They went through all our luggage and belongings. I had personal notes from L. Ron Hubbard, Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley, and photos, and they took all that and that was never returned to me.
Parman stayed in the church through 2001. When asked why, he says:
I still haven't grasped it. I thought I would achieve my spiritual ends.
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