This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
The surest and best way to secure favors from the dealers is to be in a measure independent of them by opening communication with the same sources of supply which they draw from, at least often enough to show them that their withholding of supplies in favor of old friends will not have the effect of destroying the new restaurant, which may possibly, by reaching out, even gain advantages over all the older houses, and wake them up to a realizing sense that they don't yet own the earth. This, however, is only possible with a command of capital to stand occasional losses. Some, having but a limited business, can join another party, or several whose places are far enough apart not to compete, and import profitably that which one alone could not afford.
Next best way to secure a fair share and even a preference in what is going, is to pay cash on the spot. Old friendships and well-ripened business relationships may be strong, but cash in hand will draw the - last and best thing from the darkest back corner of the refrigerator when the other fellow is not looking, nevertheless.
To stand well with the market men it is not necessary to Pttempt bribery, or to buy favors in that way. There is a good deal in having a pleasing address and sociable ways, but there is a kind of reciprocal accommodation which these dealers, being business men, appreciate above everything else - they want the buying steward to help them out occasionally when their enterprise has led them to bring on too much stock which threatens to spoil on their hands. They will not urge the man they have sometimes favored with the things that were scarcest to help to unload them in a glut, but if on once asking he does not see what is the matter, and do what he can afford by taking more or less, they are liable to remember it against him at some future time when perhaps they wil have the only basket of turkeys or sucking pigs in the whole city, and he wants them badly.
Not the least of the means of keeping abreast with the foremost in the trade is a thorough knowledge of how to keep provisions after they have been procured, The best restaurants have refrigerators of special make, cold rooms, fitted with drawers and shelves in which prepared provisions are kept awaiting orders to cook them. In some places the main dependence is upon large ice boxes containing broken ice, and cotton sacks full of small quantities of such things as are not injured by being kept wet are buried deep in the ice where they keep for a long time.