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 Our 

Senior Staff

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.

Eleven things that Jim Benson loves:

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.

Eleven things that Melissa Benson loves :

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.

Eleven things that Shaun Mengel loves :

Wood-grilled pizza, my beautiful wife and 3 children, hospitality, a great merlot, vintage t-shirts, cowboy ribeye, tattoos, cheesecake, Dr. Who, 90’s video games, risotto

Operations Manager, Matthew Hurt

Matt came to Eleven Courses after several years as a kitchen manager at a local seafood hot spot. Matt first knew he wanted to join our team when we catered his cousins wedding. He loves interacting with our clients and bringing flawless events to life. Matt is a truly talented and dedicated team member and has the ability to make the impossible happen!

Eleven things that Matt loves:

Dogs, My family, Swimming, Waking up on Christmas Morning, When late spring meets summer, tacos, making people laugh, singing and karaoke , cocktails, the beach, Grey’s Anatomy

Event Coordinator, Staci Finney

Staci came to Eleven Courses with a degree in Pastry Arts. Although she enjoyed being in the kitchen and creating beautiful wedding cakes she really wanted to be a part of the party! She began planning events and weddings for family and friends and was hooked. Her energetic and positive attitude is always great to be around.

Eleven things that Staci loves:

Family, Her Dog-Bailey, Friends, The Beach, Target, Tacos, Cheerleading, Summertime, Backyard BBQ's, Donuts, and Rainbow Sprinkles!

Mary Neumann Photography

Event Coordinator, Raquel Shetty

Raquel came to Eleven Courses after 13+ years of working in healthcare. She has had a love for weddings and events ever since she was little. Along with working in healthcare, she turned her passion for events into becoming a certified Wedding and Events Planner.  Raquel loves to be a social butterfly and is always up for a good time!

Eleven things that Raquel loves :

My Family, Dogs, The Beach, Visiting Breweries, Pumpkins, Sports (Hockey & Football) , Traveling, Tattoos, Concerts, Starbucks and Photography.

Mary Neumann Photography