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 tendency to choose the principal hotels of a city as the place to give party spreads as well as public banquets is on the increase, and it is now the case that in some of the largest there is scarcely a night in the week during the winter season that one or several such entertainments do not take place, and it has come to be a part of the hotel business and is provided for with special dining halls and all proper catering appliances to a great extent independent of the regular daily business. Where such arrangements are made for the purpose, the probabilities of the little supper or the fashionable reception or grand banquet being served in a satisfactory manner are much greater than when it Is ordered from some professed caterer's independent establishment, the latter having to contend with the scarcely surmountable difficulties of transporting the prepared food and refreshments in wagons through the streets to their destination with all the shaking up, mixing and disarrangements attending such an operation. The experienced caterer is always seeking means and appliances to prevent such damage, and the successful men are those who accomplish most in the way of prevention.
However, the hotel has immense advantages in that respect.
The stewards in such cases are called upon to meet requirements as widely different as can be imagined; the character of the entertainments running through all stages from the most economically planned charitable affairs to the most elaborate and costly complimentary banquets, and nothing is more common than for two just such extremes to meet on the same night in the same hotel. While I propose to give some examples of actual spreads with the amounts of provisions consumed and the cost, I will say plainly that they are far less likely to help the inexperienced steward than will be the learning of a few fundamental rules, which I have found 60 useful myself as to regard them as infallible.
I will name them in order and also note the exceptions and occasional disappoint ments, which are in the nature of accidents which nobody can entirely guard against. But first as to.