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 coming steward will, but he will be a true maitre d'hotel, he will be a scholar, a man of taste and grammar, he will know more than the cook, pastry cook, baker and confectioner, all combined, about dishes and the modes of preparing them and about literary composition. There are a very few such stewards now, they make the bills of fare, therefore they rule the kitchen and make, or break, the culinary reputation of the hotel. Here is a recent paragraph from the gastronomic items of an eastern paper, that reads right: "Young turkey, split and broiled, is more delicious than spring chicken. It is a dish that is very nicely cooked and served under the supervision of Mr. R. C. Amos, the experienced and judicious steward of the Revere House, whose cuisine is getting to be much talked about and tested".
That gives us the impression that it is the steward that knows what is good and the cooks are but the hands, while he is the head, that he plans and they execute, all of which is in the natural order of things and as it should be. But a person who sets up to be a steward without training and without study, and who is beholden to the cooks for his culinary information and his terms for the bill of fare, becomes little more than a tool in their hands. If he does not know more than they, he will not have their respect, and he will have no real authority. Cooks generally are not so disinterested as to work hard v hen they are just as free to work easy. The chef can make his bill of fare so that it will take the very best endeavor? of all his assistants to get the dinner ready in time, or he can make it so that there will not be enough work to fill up the hours, for he knows which dishes are tedious and difficult to prepare and which dishes are mere child's play for their easiness, and if left alone is prone to make the easy and commonplace dinners every day; he may use canned goods almost exclusively, because they are ready prepared and makes the inexperienced steward his errand boy to go out continually to buy him some more ready-made goods.
If a new cook is brought into the kitchen he is likely to find a different set of utensils to work with, from those he was used to in the last place, and if he finds the steward inexperienced and weak he will get him to buy a new outfit for his especial benefit. The cook in such a case may be right, but it is necessary for the steward to know absolutely the merits and faults and the use of all the different utensils that he may be the judge of the needs in the particular department, and discern the difference between a real need and the whim of a cook. The steward who does not know this cannot take the bill-of-fare writing out of the chef's hands without being met with hundreds of objections to his own bill, on the grounds of there being no suitable pot for this, or pan for that, no time to make one dish and no material for another.