This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
Compare the actual duties of the thorough hotel steward, as they have been detailed, with the ideas of those who think they will, as stewards only have to go to market, buy something and make their own little "per cent.", walk around the house a time or two and then sit down in a shady corner and doze the happy hours away, and the discrepancy between fact and fancy will be found so great as almost to take away the hope that truly efficient stewards ever can be made out of such poor material as usually offers. Nor does there seem to be much encouragement for more capable men to undertake duties so arduous, unless they will look further into it and behold the perfected hotel and its system of working departments running with the smoothness and certainty of a great factory, wheel within wheel, and he himself the directing head of all. A man cannot be steward of a hotel and give it a divided attention - it takes up all his thoughts. He cannot be steward and take an interest in politics, nor write a book, nor a play, nor carry on a business of his own down town. Stewarding is of all things a thoughtful occupation.
Every individual that meets the steward in the hotel wants something - something to be purchased, to be remembered, to be tried for and not secured, and tried for in another quarter. Every individual the steward meets has to be an object of his mental inquiry, has to be thought over in regard to duties and conduct. Every hour of the day has its special claim upon the thoughts of the steward, from market hours to meal hours, train times, mail times and appointments. Every individual in the house blames the steward for something, either openly or covertly, from the scullions, who complain that the steward's soap will not cleanse anything, that his matches will not light and his stove wood is wet and will not make a fire, through all the departments of fault-finders to the dyspectic guest in the distant room, who blames him for the butter or syrup or meat or bread not being to her liking, or for the failure to find a special something in market that was not there to find.
Yet, spite of all this, a man who can govern himself and therefore can govern others, may have a moderately easy time as steward of a good hotel. He may be like that one of our model stewards mentioned, as sitting in his office in the corner of the store-room within four feet of the kitchen table. He has telephone connections in his office and speaking tubes to the different departments. His storekeeper is an able second to him and needs no watching. His head cook is thoroughly efficient and reliable, can govern his kitchen and needs no watching, his pastry cook the same. The head waiter is one of the best, is on the most friendly terms with the steward and cooks, and his well-trained waiters are assiduous in their efforts to please the guests and are free from all the faults which some waiters need watching for. The house is prosperous, the business is steady, each one employed does his or her part; there is no noise, no quarelling, no friction anywhere.
This is the easy condition reached through the firm enforcement of rules and the steady weeding out of poor help and replacement with better, and the encouragement of well-doing by trifling promotions and judiciously bestowed words of praise. Then the steward takes his hour or two of recreation in the evening without the fear of a strike among the waiters, or of a desertion of cooks, or unmade fires and late meals to wear him out in the morning, and his thoughts run out to the pleasanter prospect of securing- the first strawberries of the season or a new variety of fish for his next menu, and occasionally he finds time to bestow a pitying thought upon any man, who has not yet found out that the hotel he stewards for and his table are the best in the world.