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Even brides who host casual receptions sans tables and flatware typically treat their guests to satay chicken skewers or spinach-and-artichoke wonton cups. But very few

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Dispatch From the Seattle Wedding Show: What Happened to the Free Cheese Straws?

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Even brides who host casual receptions sans tables and flatware typically treat their guests to satay chicken skewers or spinach-and-artichoke wonton cups. But very few of the caterers participating in this weekend's Seattle Wedding Show served samples of their food.

"We're here to build relationships with people - we're not here to feed them," explained Jim Lustig, owner of The Upper Crust, a 29-year old catering company headquartered in Greenwood. Lustig's staff had helpfully labeled antipasti platters with "Display Only" tags.

But Lustig says there are always show goers who ignore his tactfully-worded "do not eat" signs. On Saturday, brides who complained of being "sugared out" were forced to endure long waits at the few booths offering truffled popcorn and tortilla chips dipped in small-batch barbecue sauce, an ordeal that could make aging food seem suddenly attractive.

"I had seafood that had been out for two days," Lustig recalls. "They ate it anyhow."

A veteran of the bridal show, Lustig used to stock his booth with canapes.

"All I did was explain 'this is a mushroom strudel'," he says. Pointing at a baker who was plying potential customers with slivers of cake, he added, "Look at that guy. He's cutting cakes for two days."

Lustig prefers to use his time on the show floor to converse with brides, such as the woman who approached to ask the minimum cost of his event venue.

"There isn't a minimum," he told her. "We're very bride-and-groom-focused."

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