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Party Planner

[whitespace] Catering

Expert advice--Ann Knapp, salesperson for Events of Excellence in Sunnyvale, says it's generally not a problem for her firm to put together menus for various affairs on short notice. What she needs to know up front is whether you want to serve your guests a $10-per-person hors d'oeuvres buffet or a $40-per-plate sit-down dinner. "It's really great if customers are forthright and tell you exactly what they have to spend and what they'd like," Knapp says. "If not, you kind of waste their time and have to go back to square one."

This isn't always as easy as it sounds, but Knapp says a good caterer knows how to zero in on what's best for the customer's individual tastes, and even those who aren't quite sure what to serve can narrow their options by letting her know what they don't want gracing their table.

DIY--If your idea of spending quality time in the kitchen involves throwing toppings on a premade pizza crust instead of just buying the microwaveable kind, check out Trader Joe's, Whole Foods or any of the other high-end markets peppering this valley for noteworthy noshables. You'll find frozen hors d'oeuvres that put pizza rolls to shame, baked goods far more delectable than anything you and a certain doughboy could create together, cheese and crackers from around the world, and a huge selection of the grain and the grape--and many of these items are reasonably priced.

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From the March 5-11, 1998 issue of Metro.

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