updated 09/08/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 09/08/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Jane Pomerantz, 28, was selling fruit baskets and desserts in Baltimore but was barely capable of preparing dinner for her new husband, David, when she was asked to cater a wedding for 80 people. Jane remembers that she "pulled out a cookbook, rented some chafing dishes, hired some waiters and somehow pulled it off." She even managed to make a $450 profit from that first catering job seven years ago and soon went into business with a friend who happened to be a graduate of Paris' famed Cordon Bleu cooking school. Now, as sole owner of Creative Catering Ltd., Pomerantz expects to gross $650,000 this year, serving up everything from a coquilles Saint-Jacques dinner at $15 a head to lobster cardinal flambé with cognac for $50. The daughter of a physician and his jewelry designer wife (they are now divorced), Jane grew up in Baltimore and dropped out of Boston's Garland Junior College two months after enrolling. She returned home to work in her grandfather's real estate business and a year later married David Pomerantz, owner of a machine parts company. Now Jane oversees a staff of 11 and a pool of 50 waiters and waitresses. There are three vans fitted out with kitchens to rush meals from her northwest Baltimore commissary to as many as five functions a night. Jane dreams of being "the next Sara Lee" with her own frozen-food line. Meanwhile she is trying to find time to take her first cooking class. But, she adds, "I learned the right way—from the school of hard knocks."