Offering guests their choice of entrée—fish or beef? (above)—at the table costs 30 percent more than serving a "duet plate" (top) that features smaller portions of both fish and beef. If you go with the duet plate option, your caterer can purchase the exact number of portions necessary to feed your guests, whereas offering a choice at the table means the caterer has to buy—and you have to pay for—double the number of entrées you actually need (so that no guest is denied his or her entrée choice).
More cost-cutting tricks on display here from Marcey Brownstein Catering & Events in New York: swapping in less expensive sirloin for the New York strip and substituting in polenta fries for regular potato fries. (The cost of hiring multiple chefs to deep-fry potato fries to golden perfection can add up, but baking a tray of polenta and slicing it into French fry-like strips requires much less time and manpower.)
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