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 ladies are engaged in catering for private parties; they may be found in every town and city. They usually carry on some other small shop business or a ladies' restaurant for down town shoppers; and do little or none of the work themselves, but are acquainted with the people who give parties and with the requirements of several kinds of entertainments, and know all the available hands for such employment, the cooks, waiters, wagoners, house-cleaners, and where they can be found, also where silver and other table ware can be had for hire, and prove themselves friends in need to many who find themselves obliged to entertain, yet lack the experience necessary, and these caterers make a good income solely by employing others. The following, clipped from a society paper, shows still another department for ladies, much like the place occupied by the steward of a hotel. This one indeed is the manageress, as they are called in England, for the time being. A man caterer called in and given entire charge of a reception or other parly indeed does all that this lady does, if it is required of him, sending the proper hands to look after the silver, etc., making out the menu and getting it printed and ordering or furnishing everything for a round sum; still the lady fills a different position in standing in place of the lady of the house herself and being the employer of the caterer and florist, perhaps, besides. "A New York lady, who had made her father's dinners famous by their elegance and perfection, was left penniless.
She knew that many ladies refrain from dinner giving because they feel unequal to the ordeal, but are quite willing to pay any one who can relieve them of the responsibility and worry. An old friend of social position to whom she unfolded her plan of dinner superintendence agreed at once to employ her, and influenced her wealthy friends to try the novel plan. It worked admirably, and she probably earns more than any lady teacher in the city. Her plan is to go to the dinner giver as soon as the invitations are sent out, and discuss the courses, etc. She knows just what is in season, and does the marketing if the lady wishes. She finds out what sum the hostess is willing to expend for flowers, menus, etc, and buys them for her, taking great pains to get novel and artistic designs. The afternoon of the dinner she sees that the table is properly laid, inspects the polish of the silver and the lustre of the glass, makes sure that the changes of plates, etc., are ready on the sideboard, attends to the finger-bowls, and arranges the shades on the candles to secure that soft radience that ladies find so becoming.
She foresees every probable emergency and provides for all contingencies that may arise".