This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
"Many land owners give audit dinners (or rent day dinners) in hotels, when the tenant farmers come to pay their rent. These dinners are sometimes very cheap, still they are often attended by a large number of guests, and it requires some close calculation to render them profitable as well as successful. Served:
Wines or beer extra. (No coffee).
Bread. Butter. Cheese. Salad.
Wines or beer extra.
2 Ribs, 2 Sirloins Beef.
1 Boiled Round of Beef.
A Roast, a Boiled Lees Mutton.
8 Veal and Ham Pies.
50 Cauliflowers. 1 Sack Potatoes.
16 Rhubarb Tarts. 16 Cabinet Puddings.
150 Dinner Rolls.
Bread, Butter, Cheese, and Biscuits.
Wine» or beer extra.
Clear and Ox-tail Soups.
2 Veal and Ham Pies, 2 Tongues.
8 Roast Fowls. 1 Ham.
4 Jellies. 4 Creams. 4 Fancy Pasties.
Wines, etc., extra.
90 Quarts Clear Soup.
4 Large Joints Roast Beef.
2 Large Boiled Rounds Beef.
4 Roast Legs Mutton.
2 Large Hams.
2 Galantines of Veal.
A Pieces Pressed Beef.
8 Steak Pies.
8 Veal and Ham Pies.
18 Jellies. 18 Creams.
18 St. Clair Puddings.
18 Rhubarb Tarts in deep soup plates.
18 Mince Pies in deep soup plates.
250 Rolls. Cut Bread, Butter, Cheese, etc.
1 1/2 Sack Potatoes. 75 Cauliflowers.
Wines or beer extra.
"To avoid confusion (if possible) I allot two rooms, one for the landlord, or his agent, to use as an office where each tenant pays his rent. The tenants wait in the smoking, billiard, or other public rooms; and, if they number only twenty or thirty, I have their dinner spread in the ladles' coffee-room, made private for the time being. But in cases where, there are over a hundred I manage this way.
"We will take No. 3 dinner served as follows; I had three long tables (seating fifty persons at each) down the room, and a serving table top and bottom.
As the price was so low, I could not afford to hire special waiters, so placed my own, one on either side of each table, giving him two girls, housemaids or otherwise, one on each hand, thus allowing one waitress to every eight guests, and one waiter to nine ditto. Ten minutes before dinner time I marshalled them in their places, indicating how far down the table each was to look after the comfort of the visitors, and strictly enjoining that no one should run about or wait on any part of the table other than that allotted to him or tier. Each waiter was instructed to keep a sharp look out all down his side of the table to see that the two waitresses were serving correctly, their experience not being equal to his.
"Having settled the question of attendance, I had the porters ready to bring up at a moment's notice the soup, joints, and vegetables all boiling hot from the kitchen. Four servers took their position at the top serving-table, another four going to the bottom. Directly the guests entered, the porters brought up the soup in the slock pots (covered round with coarse white cloths). There was no need for hot soup plates, as the liquor was actually boiling on the serving tables. The eight servers soon supplied the eighteen attendants, who as quickly served the guests; and as they collected the dirty soup plates, the servers were carving the joints and pies, two of their number transferring the vegetables direct from the steamers into dishes to hand round as required. This arrangement ensuring, as it did, fresh and hot vegetables was much appreciated by the guests. I personally assured myself, by walking round the tables, that every guest was served, and properly served. Two young lads were deputed to go round with bread after the rolls were consumed, so that no one -waited for that very necessary article, as is so often the case at large dinners.
"At the proper time the sweets were sent round, and such was the celerity of serving that the 150 diners were satisfied; everything (not wanted on the table) removed; and the chairman rose to make his speech within the hour from the time of first sitting down. The porters had been taking away the dirty plates, etc., during the dinner, so that when I withdrew from the room with the waiters and waitresses, having only been there forty-five minutes, I had nothing to do beyond dividing such sweets as were left amongst the girls, who had come from their ordinary occupations and assisted so willingly. I may here add I find a little thoughtful kindness like this makes them ready volunteers for any great pressure. As soon as the guests departed, I took the staff into the room again, and each one looked up and secured the various things belonging to their different departments, thus avoiding loss or confusion. Three hours after the dinner everything was in proper order again, and the usual business of the hotel was never at any time interfered with.
"The above hints will assist the experienced to serve dinners of any size, and the same rules may be carried out with regard to large cold luncheons. I have served the latter for 700 persons in less than one hour, with only fifteen waiters and thirty girl-helpers. In the case of the No. 5 lunch, the fowls were carved and dished, and ham, pressed beef galantines of veal, etc., sliced and served up on salad, and placed each side of the fowls. All these make very pretty dishes, if nicely ornamented with colored kale, parsley, or flowers. No one, unless they try the plan, can conceive what a saving is effected by this mode of serving; for what would be only one joint can be made into a dozen dishes, and each person can help himself to a neatly carved slice, whereas few can carve under such circumstances, and much fewer care to be troubled to do so for strangers.