Try Elizabeth Rupp of Tri-Valley Personal Chefs. She’s in Livermore, and she will likely be catering our wedding out in Marin (amazingly enough, with no travel charge, even though it’s over an hour away). She’s been fantastic to work with so far with prompt, detailed responses and nothing but professional. I was ready to give up with finding an affordable caterer, but she’s been amazing. No travel fees, cake cutting fees, or anything like that. I gave her a budget, and she came up with 3 proposed menus within 24 hours. We went to a tasting the other day, and the food was really good. It wasn’t a foodie’s dream come true by any means, but I am on the pickier side when it comes to food quality, and I couldn’t complain.
The most amazing thing is that by comparison to everyone else, she’s CHEAP! We asked her for the price of the following menu: fresh fruit and cheese/cracker platters for appetizers (which she is willing to deliver to our separate ceremony site for no additional charge), salad, marinated tri-tip with au jus, grilled & sliced chicken breast with a garlic chardonnay sauce, 2 types of vegetarian quiche, pasta, and assorted breads. It will cost us $27.15 per person for 150, which includes tax, service, plates, water glasses/carafes, and silverware. At our tasting, she gave us multiple options, including adding a bartender for $130 (we supply all drinks), and tons of really practical advice. The one thing she doesn’t supply are table linens (but for the buffet), but she offers to extend her 10% discount with the company she uses and pick up/drop off for you at no additional charge.
I’m certainly no expert at these things, but my fiance used to work for Hornblower as part of their event staff when he was in college, and he was impressed with her knowledge of how to run an event. I liked that she was really flexible but at the same time, very cognizant of what her company’s limitations were and provides explanations of why something isn’t doable.
Oh, and perhaps the best part? No deposit! You sign a contract agreeing to pay a $250 cancellation fee, and that’s it. Payment isn’t even due until a week before the wedding, the same time as the final head count.
Hope this helps! The other way to do it for cheap is ethnic, and the Bay Area is full of possibilities . . .