Food is an important component to any party, and Bonni Manning is ready to help with that.

Ms. Manning owns Bonni Manning Catering, Inc. in New Milford, a 30-year-old business providing one-stop shopping for catered events.

"We make sure the customer has exactly what they're looking for," right down to a customized menu, tents, tables and chairs, linens and other necessary items to make an event a success, Ms. Manning said during a recent interview at her 299 Kent Road (Route 7 North) business near Boardman Bridge.

"We can take care of everything," she said. "We're a one-stop shop to make their party the perfect party."

Ms. Manning, a Sherman resident, said she loves the business and especially enjoys "the excitement when people are happy" with their catered event.

Julie Samartini of Kent recently hired Ms. Manning to cater a family party for 20 people.

It was the first time she had hired a caterer and, after hearing her guests "rave" about the food, Ms. Samartini said she would do it again.

"Bonni is extremely responsive, very creative, open-minded, very flexible and one of the most vibrant people I've met," Ms. Samartini said during a surprise visit to Ms. Manning's business during the interview.

The community "is very lucky to have someone like her here," she said.

Ms. Manning has an extensive background in the food industry. Her father was a nut broker and her aunt was a longtime caterer and taught catering courses up into her 70s.

Having grown up around food, starting her own business seemed a natural fit.

At first, Ms. Manning was active in the equine world and eventually began to provide the food for horse shows in the region.

She became "the go-to caterer for events involving horses," developing many clients, and was known for her expertise "for doing events in fields with no electricity and no running water," Ms. Manning explained.

By 1987, her business moved away from equine-related events and focused on private parties and other special events.

Since then, Ms. Manning's business has specialized in catering events for groups of 10 or more, for individuals and organizations.

Last year the company catered an event that required 67 staff members, some of whom have been with her business for 20 years.

Ms. Manning primarily provides services in the region, but she has traveled as far east as Newport, R.I., north as the Adirondacks and south as New York City and Long Island. She also frequently caters events in Westchester County, N.Y.

"We work incredibly hard, but we're doing what we love," Ms. Manning said of her staff, noting that sometimes they dress in particular attire if an event has a theme, such as a hoe-down.

Ms. Manning said she spends "countless hours researching, reading books, reviewing menus and visiting new restaurants I hear about" to enhance her business and her culinary skills.

Additionally, the business does its "best to use locally produced in-season fruits and vegetables" in their menus.

For more information, visit www.bonnimanningcatering.com or call 860-355-0004 to set up an appointment.