This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
Perhaps the remaining proposition discloses what our correspondent was really driving at in asking the manual labor question, he says: "The steward's assistant prepares all meats for cooking, but not the steward personally".
This is one of the dividing points between the New England type of steward and the nautical New York type. The former buys the meat, cuts it up (with assistance if necessary) hands it over to the cooks, carves it after cooking, does everything except the cooking of it; the other does not cut meats, but counts that the cook's duty and has what he calls a butcher cook for that work.
The coming steward wilbcut meats, not all actually, but he will supervise the assistants who do, he will put the cut meats away, carry the keys of the refrigerators, and hand the meats out to be cooked. The modern, improved, systematized hotel organization is based upon the assumption that every man is honest when it is to his interest to be so, and temptations and opportunities to be otherwise are removed from the employe's as far as possible. One employe is made to be a check and restraint upon another as far as practicable. The steward buys, the store-keeper receives and gives receipts, he issues and charges. If the cook sends an order for meat, receives it, cuts and trims, cooks, carves and serves it, there is no check upon him except the uncertain one of the size of his daily bill at the store-room, nobody knows what he has done with the meat. But if the steward, carrying the keys of the refrigerator himself, cuts up the loins of beef and sends them ready cut to the kitchen, when the tray is sent back for more while the meal is going on, the steward may say: "How have you used the meat I sent you? I sent you fifty porterhouse steaks, fifty tenderloin steaks along with one hundred common steaks, now you send for more choice steaks so early.
What have you done with the others? Has your broiler spoiled them in cooking? Have you allowed them to be served to persons not entitled to them? Have you laid them away In reserve to sell to some private favorites?
Have you chopped them up for your consomme instead of waiting and sending for a piece of coarser meat?" Such questions are never actually put in words, but the cook feels that the steward may ask them and the consciousness of restraint makes him watch the broiler and be more attentive to the orders as they come.
As for the dinner meats, the steward will remember that he issued fifty pounds of roast yesterday, and twenty pounds was left over, therefore he issues less to-day, and holds the carver or cook responsible for that which they took charge of after yesterday's dinner. In this way the steward holds the reins of government and hotel work goes on with the same precision as if it were a large factory. The hand labor of cutting up meat for hundreds of people in a large hotel is no small matter, for in some houses it keeps two active hands busy from morning till night. In such cases the steward only directs which meats to use first, and receives and locks up the product of the cutting. Steaks and chops have to be prepared in the greatest amounts. It is merely mechanical work, however, and easily learned. When a young man under the steward's instruction has learned to cut one loin of beef right he has learned how to cut all, if anything unusual is to be done in the way of boning or trussing the cook will do it himself.
Consequently, when the hotel has not business enough to require the employment of a meat cutter exclusively, any apt hand about the house may be trained easily into doing the mechanical part of such work, the head work and managing not to lose any meat devolving upon the steward.