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What Does a Chief Steward Do?

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A chief steward plays an important role in any business in the hospitality industry. He supervises and coordinates the activities of the stewarding department in a hotel or on board a ship or aircraft. The stewarding department covers the pantry, storeroom and kitchen, and the chief steward supervises all the staff therein except for the chefs. The chief steward usually has a degree in hospitality management and experience in various roles together with personal attributes such as organization, communication and interpersonal skills.


The chief steward is responsible for overseeing the cleanliness of the kitchen, storerooms, workrooms and equipment and making sure that they are in good working order. The steward supervises the staff in cleaning and sanitizing these areas for the benefit of the customer and also to provide a healthy working environment for the employees. He also oversees the dishwashing, cleaning and shining of the silver, and storing foodstuff and supplies in the fridge and pantry. He inspects the areas after cleaning to ensure that the work complies with the hygiene standards of the company and the state health department.

Inventory Control

The responsibility for inventory control in the kitchen and pantry lies with the chief steward. He takes stock of what is available and, where necessary, places an order for more food and supplies to ensure that there is enough to provide efficient services. He also keeps track of the state of the equipment and requisitions for repair or replacement in the event that they are not in good working order. The chief steward inspects all the items that are delivered to verify that they are in accordance with the order he placed. A steward also usually develops inventory management systems and procedures to guard against theft of supplies or wastage.

Staff Administration

It is the duty of the chief steward to manage the staff in the stewarding department toward productivity and effectiveness. He is actively engaged in the hiring process and interviews workers to determine their level of skill, experience and aptitude, and he makes the final decision on the new hire. The chief steward trains and orients new workers into the department and briefs them on the rules, policies and objectives of the company, particularly in relation to their work. He organizes the work schedules and assigns each member of staff specific duties. He assesses the performance of his staff, positively reinforcing excellence and taking disciplinary measures for poor and inefficient performance.

Banquet Arrangements

Chief stewards coordinate with the catering department to organize banquets. A chief steward communicates with the chef to plan the banquet in terms of the foods and supplies that will be needed to produce the menu. He also works with other managers to organize for the proper equipment and to ensure that there are an adequate number of employees available to serve the event. If there is need for extra employees, the chief steward is in charge of hiring and orienting them, and also posting their time records for the purposes of payment.


Joseph Petrick has been a writer and editor since 2003. He writes career, business and education articles. His work has appeared in several online publications including Career Today. Petrick holds a Master of Arts in philosophy/economic anthropology from Pennsylvania State University.

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