This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
Sometimes the change of cooks is made by common consent when the one wants to get away for reasons of his own, and there is then no secresy and no surprise, which must be regarded fortunate for the new man, for no matter how well experienced he may be, he finds the first day in a new situation a hard one, even when everything is left running on in its proper order, and so much the worse when the late incumbent has done all he can to make it hot for him. It is hard at first to find any article that he wants, he must find the thing by searching in various places instead of being able to lay his hand upon it from habit without thinking, and then his kitchen hands are strange to him. However, he has his own second cook, perhaps one or two more whom he knows. Beginning at night, he first makes sure of his fireman, finding out if he can be relied upon to have the fires made early enough, and he sees to it with his own eyes that the fuel is good and easily reached. He divides the breakfast work in his own mind into three divisions, the meats, the fries and the vegetables.
The meats include everything that is to be broiled, also the eggs, and he sees whether the small meats are ready cut and in the refrigarator, if the whole list which appears upon the breakfast bill of fare is there, or whether only part is ready; then he proceeds to cut or have cut and prepared the missing articles, which may be chickens, fish to broil, or ham. The fries include fish, oysters in all ways, fried potatoes, chip potatoes, fried mush, codfish balls, breaded cutlets, liver and tripe. The vegetables are not really vegetables, but are miscellaneous dishes grouped together that way, because prepared in part by the vegetable cook; they are oatmeal, cornmeal mush, grits, stewed potatoes, hash, fried onions, stewed tripe. Some of these things the vegetable cook carries out complete, others, such as the stews, that cook only prepares by cutting up ready and the second cook finishes. The meal division belongs to the second cook, though he probably will have the meat cutter, or some other, to do the broiling, he having to dish up orders and do the most of the egg cooking; his first part of getting ready for breakfast is the making of the stews and assisting with the frying of cutlets and breaded fish, the third cook being busy getting enough Saratoga chips and French fried potatoes along with other fries to keep ahead of the orders.
The head cook's duty is to "make" his eggs, as the kitchen phrase is, that is to cook them as ordered, but this he only does during a rush of orders, and after seeing that everything is running on right and nothing has been forgotten, he leaves the front of the range and puts in every minute he possibly can in preparing his soups and entrees for lunch and dinner. His ability to run the kitchen is according to his ability to remember everything that must be done and every item of material that will be required to work with; he makes out his requisition over-night, and it will be well for him, if he does not forget something of small value seemingly, yet quite indispensable, and it is ho less important for him to know which one of his half dozen assistants will do each particular thing, and to give them their orders accordingly. After the first newness is oyer, each of these hands will know the part he or she has to perform, and will do the same every day, but at first all the strain is upon the head cook.
The first breakfast is, however, only half his cares; at the same time of survey of the breakfast meats over night, he also sees what there will be for dinner, plans the bill of fare, if the steward has not planned it for him, and looks about for the wherewithal to make his first dinner in the house a credit to himself, and then he must see that whatever .will require the most time is begun first, and must plan the work of each one of his helpers. His second leaves the breakfast work next morning like himself, and begins the work on lunch and dinner, and side by side they both do the same work, boning veal or fowls, stuffing, larding, barding, cutting meat small, cooking, pressing, cooling and re-cooking sweetbreads, mincing mushrooms, onions, parsley, cutting truffles in dice, boning, pressing and afterwards cutting up the cooked calfs head for soup, making croquettes, filleting fish, cutting croutons of bread, preparing salads, making sauces, finishing the soups; and the second cook as his special duty makes the sweet entrees, while the third or roast cook roasts and boils the plain meats, the vegetable cook prepares all the vegetables, except such things as breaded and fried egg-plant, and another cooks meat for the hands.
When the sixty or eighty different operations have been merged into the thirty or forty dishes, which constitute the meat cook's part of the great hotel dinner and the meal is about ready, he takes a bill of fare which has just come from the printers, calls the half dozen principal helpers to him and reads off each item, every accompaniment, every sauce, every form of vegetables, and asks if that is ready. If anything has been forgot, they make haste to get it ready yet before the doors open.
When the dinner is about over, and the quantities have proved to be just right, and no person has been denied anything he called for, the headwaiter steps into the carving room and passes some pleasant remark to the steward; the steward strolls over to where the new chef stands, makes some pleasant remark" to him and they shake hands. Soon after the chef finds most of his assistants near him, and- sud denly he says:
"Well, boys, how was that for a dinner?"
"Went off first rate," says one cautiously.
"A pretty good dinner," says another, with slowness and great emphasis on each syllable.
"Well I should say it was!" exclaims the chef, with more emphasis still, "considering it was the first day, too! Boys, there's a bottle of beer apeice-for you in the basket under my desk - there's a bottle or two of Rhine wine there, besides, if any of you would rather have it, help yourselves." And the chef goes to his room.