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Successful parties with help from caterers

If you like to entertain at home with some good outside cooking and serving assistance, here are some hints from a few of New York's leading caterers. They were shared recently at a Lord & Taylor series of entertaining seminars, given to raise funds for Kips Bay Boys Club.

Charles Chevillot of La Fete advises you to have an interview with the caterer well before the entertaining occasion so he or she has opportunity to examine your house and its facilities as well as your life style and way of entertaining.

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Make the catering discreet and personal, says Mr. Chevillot, by using your own accessories. Know the limitations of your equipment and have the menu designed accordingly.

Connell and Sulkowski of Taste Alliance say there should be no surprises for the hostess. To be relaxed and comfortable throughout the evening, she should be familiar with every detail of the menu and know exactly what will be served from the beginning to the end of the meal.

''Trust your caterer if you are going to use one,'' says Sean Driscoll of Glorious Foods. ''Consult with him, but let him do as much as possible. Be so relaxed that your guests will think you entertain in this manner all the time.''

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