In 1977, Joanne Katz, Peggy Beck, and Dede Winterburn formed Three Tomatoes Catering on a whim. Since then, the company has changed personnel (Winterburn bowed out after a few months), grown in stature (it’s now the official caterer of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver), and branched out from staples like chili con queso (one of the appetizers served at the trio’s first bash). These days, the caterer is regularly tapped for bold-name events such as dinners for Michelle Obama or fund-raisers for Mitt Romney, but Katz equally enjoys the smaller events. “I love being part of the once-in-a-lifetime experiences like weddings,” Katz says. “We get to provide the food, which is always celebratory.” Exclusive: Make Three Tomatoes’ Most Delicious Mushroom Salad at home.

Most Delicious Mushroom Salad

Serves 4 to 6

This salad holds its integrity even after being dressed. Joanne Katz of Three Tomatoes Catering says this dish can be served as a first course or, if paired with a nice baguette, as a plated appetizer.

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
a few fresh thyme leaves
1 large fennel bulb with fronds, bulb slivered and fronds chopped
1/4 cup young green onions, minced
1–2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound mixed wild or domestic mushrooms, sliced
Parmesan, shaved

Whisk oil into lemon juice. Add thyme, salt and pepper, green onions, and garlic. Add slivered fennel. Marinate.

When ready to serve, drain. Add sliced mushrooms and gently toss. Season to taste. Arrange on individual plates or on a platter and garnish with fennel fronds and shaved Parmesan. Serve immediately.