This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
"Well, thank God that's over," exclaimed a headwaiter as he closed the dining-room doors after breakfast, "oh, but they scorched me, they burnt me up! There is no steward out there. I can't get anything out of that kitchen. My waiters go there, but never come back. The head cook does not know whether he is on his head or his feet, his men are all rattled, and the people tear me to pieces. I would not go through another such season if they would give me the house".
Thus far we have considered only the principal meal of the day, the dinner, in relation to the steward's duties, but his presence during the progress of the other meals is no less important. Perhaps there is no time when his supervision is felt by all to be so necessary as during breakfast; the urgency of this need is what impels proprietors themselves to assume part of the out-door duties that the steward may remain in the house; this need is what first suggests the employment of an inside steward when the proprietor cannot assist. A good steward, a man of force, can get about twice as much work out of a set of waiters as they will do spontaneously if they are left alone. Although the waiters, as a class, are higher in the scale of respectability, there is such a similarity of method between the mate of a steamer and his crowd of deck hands filing past on the gang plank carrying goods on board, and the inside steward urging the waiters along during the rush of the meal, that the com-parision is irresistible. The headwaiter has no business in the kitchen or carving room except to look for his waiters when they get lost, he cannot stay there to see whether they are fooling the time away, or where the fault lies.
When they pass beyond the dining room doors they are out of his power and he can only wait till the powers behind the scenes send them in to him again. And some waiters will "soldier." One of them will see with a side glance some party coming in whom he does not want to wait upon and he picks up a dish from a table and darts off as if he had been sent for something, knowing that another waiter will have been detailed to attend that party before he returns, and some old dogs at the business will manage it so that they never have more than one or two orders at a time when they ought to take six or eight. The hotel might hire fifty or a hundred waiters of this sort and still never have enough. It is the business of the steward to see through and frustrate all such tricks, and also to help the waiters along by seeing that they are not kept waiting for supplies at the pantry or fruit room, or bread or toast tables, or by the hot milk being allowed to run out, or by waiting for new supplies of meat from below that ought to be brought up in time, and a hundred other trifles which require forethought, but nobody thinks of but the head man. Then there are serious knots and snarls taking place In the kitchen.
Twenty waiters are waiting for their multifarious orders at once, they grow vociferous, the more energetic thrust themselves forward and secure their orders far in advance of their turn, while the quieter waiter looses his turn over and over again, and his family of people in the dining room have the mortification of seing people at the next table, who came in later, receive their breakfast promptly, eat it and depart before their own waiter even makes his second appearance. The simple restraint of the steward's presence at such a time is often sufficient to quell the noise and correct these irregularities, if not, he insists on the taking of regular turns, and assists the cooks to know who comes next. Under such a supervision the meals are served in the least possible time, without it the results are low quarrels and confusion worse confounded, or, at the best, when the business slackens up the kitchen and neighboring departments become a play house.