This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
Every hotel being in want of a real steward, and only a small number being at present supplied with such, it is evident that, when the stewards do come to their own again, they will crowd out somebody that is now standing in their shoes. They will crowd out the "assistant manager." There is no such a thing as an assistant manager, the man so called is occupying the steward's place without doing the steward's hardest work. They will crowd down the present crop of chefs and make head cooks of them. There is no such word as chef in the English language, nor in American-English. When a head cook becomes such an object of respect that he must be named in italic print and made conspicuous in that way all over a newspaper page, it shows that he is more than head cook, he is a grade above, and that grade in English is steward; in French also, it is steward, the French chef is equivalent to American steward. The French cook is le cuisinier. The French chef-de-cuisine is the chief of kitchen, he is more than cuisinier, he is the managing, meat-cutting, carving, bill-of-fare writing, wine serving, kitchen-governing man, known to the American hotel system as steward. The French chef of to-day is the same as the maitre 'd' hotel of a century ago.
Maitre dy hotel is literally master of the house; every French nobleman's house used to be called hotel, his steward was his maitre d' hotel. We are accustomed to reading in English of Ude, Vatel, Marin, Bechamel, and others being cook to such a king or prince, but the French reading is not cook, but maitre d' hotel, steward - something higher than cuisinier - the same thing, in fact, as our working and governing stewards, who can invent dishes and show others how, if need be. The old term maitre d' hotel seems to have dropped out of use, the French now have only chefs - chiefs of the kitchen, with all that it implies. Jules Gouffe- was called, and called himself, chef to the Paris jockey club, but he was far more than a cuisinier - he was wine steward and an authority on wines; he was an authority on confectionery, canning and preserving, and on meat cooking as well. That is the sort of man he understood a chef to be - the same as a most accomplished working steward is with us. Are the head cooks of the generality of hotels that sort of men? If not, why call them chefs in italic conspicuousness? If there are some such why not apply the English word and call them stewards? Chef is generally thought to mean cook.
Steward is a title of higher rank, and those who deserve it ought to wear it.