Holly Safford

The Catered Affair, Founder

Your company turns 33 years old this fall. Why do you think you've succeeded where other catering businesses haven't?

The clichéd answer is that we've been dedicated to quality. At the beginning we didn't have food service training, but we always had the principle of asking ourselves, "How would we want this to be in our own home?" There are people on our team who have been here 15 or 20 years, so they know our clients inside and out. It's hard work, but it's all I know and what I love.

What changes have you seen in catering, and what have you done to adapt to them?

The industry has clearly been affected by the economy. You have to be nimble and adjust for the market conditions. We've seen a lot of recessions come and go, but we've kept our nose in the air and sniffed it out when it's on its way, and made changes when we've needed to

What has stood out for you in terms of your most meaningful philanthropic efforts? 

We've donated our services to Christmas in the City, which has an annual party that brings in mothers and children from shelters all over Eastern Massachusetts. Food at shelters is usually very simple —pizza and hot dogs and things kids would like — but we introduced salad that was donated from Sid Wainer & Son in New Bedford, and it was a big hit. Providing high-quality food means a lot to the guests, and they express their gratitude readily and often.

How do you choose what causes to support?

We can't be involved in everything, but we try to participate in a few things that mean a lot to us. It's somewhat a function of the year and how much we can spare, but it's also about that phone call that touches you from the moment you hear the voice on the other end. Often you learn more about these organizations and think, "How could we say no?"

Favorite restaurant in Boston

Mistral on Columbus Avenue [in the Back Bay] is predictably wonderful every time we go. I love the mussels with the smoky tomato broth, and the tuna tartare is the best on the planet.

What she would do if she wasn't spending her days as a caterer

I have a very big family, with five children and a growing roster of grandchildren, and as it expands, I think that finding time for that would be my number one priority.

Hobbies outside of work

I love family vacationing. Right now I'm actually in Montana with the entire family (16 strong!). It's great to relax and go golfing and river rafting. We also love to ski and are avid tennis players.

For more information about Holly Safford and The Catered Affair, please visit http://thecateredaffair.com/