CAFÉ PRIMAVERA
201 S. Market St., San Jose
408.885.1094; www.cafeprimavera.com

Caterer/owner Joanna Biondi

Age: 54

Hometown: Born in San Luis Obispo; grew up in the Bay Area, mostly in Los Gatos; graduated from Woodside High School.

Experience: Worked in restaurants and catering for 32 years. While in college, she was a waitress at Garden City in San Jose. That job led to catering gigs, which in turn evolved into the Party Helpers, a catering company she co-owned for 12 years. In 1990, she opened Café Primavera in Willow Glen, her first restaurant (she sold it in 2002). The brand has grown to include a catering business and Café Primavera outposts at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose and Menlo Park's Allied Arts, the latter of which opened on Sept.

Advertisement

4.

Early inspiration: "My grandmother lived with us. I spent all my summers with her. When I think of her, I think of food. She cooked and cooked. Our family was centered on the next meal."

At home: "I cook at home a lot. My hubby loves his pasta. In the summer, we barbecue almost every night. In the winter, I get my crockpot out."

A love of wine country: "We just bought a house in Napa for the sole purpose of eating in the restaurants.
All we do is go up and we hit a new restaurant. We've been eating a lot in Bottega, Michael Chiarello's restaurant in Yountville."

Favorite holiday: "Probably Easter because I love to do Easter brunch."

Holiday noshing: "What we do at Christmas is 'dinner by the bite.' It's an open house with dishes of one or two bites, tapas-style."

Signature menu item: "We're famous for our crab cakes. We have people from Virginia tell us our crab cakes are the best they've eaten."

Toughest everyday challenge: "Right now, the economy. I've been doing this for 32 years. I know how you have ups and downs. I know how to survive them but it's a challenge."

Word of mouth: "I tell my staff that every job we do is our marketing. We have to hit it 100 percent every time."

Culinary philosophy: "Obsessive. I am always looking for the best. I go to every trade show. I eat in restaurants constantly. I read every cooking magazine I can. I'm always looking for a product that's the best. I try to find the absolute best of the best. If you cut corners, it's going to taste like you cut corners. If I don't eat it, I wouldn't serve it to my clients."