Our Approach

We have a secret recipe when it comes to catering, but why not...we will share it with you. First we start with a whole lot of passion for what we do (creating amazing events) and whom we are doing it for (you.)

…then we begin…

The Chef Experience: Your event comes with your own chef. We pair you up with a chef on our team that best reflects your culinary style and vision. From the menu design process to the day of your event, and the days in between, your chef will always be available to meet with you to brainstorm ideas, customize options and carry out your vision.

Credit: J.H. Photography

Event Coordinator Collaboration: Now that you have the perfect menu, what about everything else? That is where your event coordinator comes in - ensuring that everything is happening when it should be, as it should be - overseeing timelines, layouts and our highly-trained service staff. 

The Little Things: Your chef remembers you love fun, inventive chocolates and makes you a batch as a surprise; your event coordinator recalls you talking about Spanish Cava and brings you a bottle of her favorite. We work with local farms, infuse our own olive oils and butters, take pride in our Eco-initiatives, and give back to the community.

Meet the Team

Exec. Chef/Owner, Jim Benson

A Baltimore native, Chef Jim Benson’s first and only culinary job before launching Eleven Courses was illegal. Just barely a teenager, not officially old enough to work, Jim got a job at a local grocery store in the produce department. He fell in love with the simplicity, beauty and freshness that surrounded him every day and started bringing his work home. Over a decade later, after graduating college, countless dinner parties for friends and family and extensive international travel, Jim created Eleven Courses with his wife, Melissa.

Jim is regularly featured on FOX, ABC, CBS, and USA for the latest in wedding, food and event trends.

Hey Chef, what’s your style?

My style is bringing the client’s vision to life. I thrive on creating clean, un-muddled, layered flavors. I love to push boundaries in the kitchen; opening people up to a new experience - challenging them to rethink about the foods they’ve loved their whole lives.

What are Eleven words that make you really happy?

Family, foie gras, tasting menu, ocean-to-table, traveling, local cheese, red wine, French macaroons, sushi, Italy, my guitar

Event Director/Owner, Melissa Benson

Melissa grew up in a very food centric family – exposed to great restaurants from a young age and use to something always cooking in the kitchen. “Family dinners were a big deal in my house and I loved every night was a true celebration of good food and people.” Jim and I met in college and he started spoiling me with his cooking right away. We entertained all of the time and I was constantly going out and buying new places settings, centerpieces, etc. to design the perfect event. After one epic eleven course dinner party, our journey began – weddings, galas, corporate affairs and soirees of all kinds.

Melissa often joins Jim on his television appearance as a design & event expert.

What are Eleven things that make you really happy?

Fresh vegetables, Aubriel, Ariette, Jim, weddings, chocolate, mojitos, sunshine, (Jim’s) shrimp & grits, our team, exploring.

Chef, Shaun Mengel

Chef Shaun has had a passion for food for as long as he can remember; cooking has always made him happy. He attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia and after working in many restaurants found his home at Eleven Courses where he constantly brings new ideas to the table – helping to develop some of our greatest culinary creations.

What are Eleven things that make you really happy?

wood-grilled pizza, picnics, hospitality, a great merlot, vintage t-shirts, cowboy ribeye, tattoos, cheesecake, 90’s video games, risotto

Sr. Event Coordinator, Chrissy Jones

Chrissy brings over 10 years of experience in the hospitality industry to Eleven Courses. Her vast experience, energy and enthusiasm are instantly contiguous. She really understands and connects with our clients and knows exactly how to deliver the highest quality event – no host or guest ever will want for anything – she’s always a step ahead.

Chrissy’s favorite part of an event?

Seeing the clients face light up as they see the completely set-up for the first time.

What are Eleven things that make you really happy?

French pastries, wedding dresses, décor, kimchi, baking, anything Polish, brown ales, game nights, pedicures, my husband and our boys

Event Coordinator, Kristina Powell

Kristina’s attention to detail is sublime. She realizes the importance of how the little details come together to great the perfect, flawless event. Her organization is bar none and her love for the culinary arts shines in everything she does.

What are Eleven things that make you really happy?

Pasta, the color orange, when Fall meets Winter, homemade Ice Cream, the Eastern Shore, Christmas, dogs, crabbing, cocktails, Saturdays, love.

Daniel McGarity Photography