There really aren’t enough adjectives to express how amazing our Farewell Party was on Saturday evening. But, after all the years we’ve known each other, I shouldn’t be surprised! We met while working together at Williams Sonoma back in 1987 (have we really aged 30 years?).
I don’t know if you remember, but the first party you did for me was in 1988, a surprise 65th birthday party for my mother. I remember all the guests being blown away at the food you served. Fast forward many years, and you began catering the birthday lunches I had in memory of my mother. Again, everyone was amazed. There have been too many Christmas dinners to count where you prepared food for the dinners we hosted (ok, one time I did take credit for the amazing mushroom sauce to accompany the tenderloin), birthday dinners and all those wonderful “Charlene To-Go Meals”.
But, back to the Engle Farewell. Through all the years, I had never had the full “Charlene Experience.” If anyone wonders what the Experience is, just be prepared to be blown away! I knew the food would be amazing – an homage to the South Carolina Low Country where we will call home in the not-too-distant future. Shrimp and grits, fried chicken, ham biscuits, tomato salad, corn salad, blueberry pie, key lime cupcakesand of course, “Mark’s” chocolate cake. It was the best food ever! I would be remiss to not mention the beverage selection – Denaya created drinks to everyone’s delight – whether a cocktail or a mocktail, her creations were a hit. I must say, I’m now addicted to Cucumber Shrubs – refreshing with a kick! Jessica and Taylor worked tirelessly to keep the buffet full and take care of all our guests.
But, never in my wildest imagination, could you transform our backyard into a low country paradise! Twinkling lights and lanterns, mason jars and a soft breeze – it was perfection! You took the idea of a backyard party and created something both elegant and comfortable. I will never forget this wonderful evening.
-- Kim Engle
"Hi Charlene. Everything was terrific. People came early and stayed late and eat nearly every bite. Your trays were so beautiful, plentiful, and delicious. Thank you!! We look forward to working with you again. Thank you for making our lives easier and more pleasurable.
-- Hillary L., Radiance Yoga
"Hi Charlene -
I had been meaning to tell you how fabulous everything went on Sunday, but I am afraid that you got to me first. It was absolutely perfect. I meant to take a picture of the table but, of course, I got caught up and was too busy in the moment. We had barely any leftovers, if that is a good indication of planning and enjoyment. Several people remarked on the salad and, of course, the cupcakes! Everything was absolutely scrumptious! Thank you again for your attention to detail and for providing such a beautiful display of food.
So delicious, as always!
When I was pulling out the food, the kids groaned a little bit, saying “mom, you know we don’t like ham!” And I said, “listen, you little brats, Charlene made this ham.” Well, that changed everything! Guess who all like ham now?? ;-)
“We’ve always known that Charlene is a gourmet chef but found out recently that she is also a gourmet chef with the BEST gluten free dinners imaginable! I haven’t had gluten in over 30 years and after recent surgery, was treated to gluten free Chili, beef stroganoff, yes with SAUCE, and easily the most delicious GF chocolate chip cookies ever! And our non gluten free family loved every bite!
Amazing dinners in every way and simply the best treat imaginable!
Thank you, Charlene!”
Everything you prepared was over the top fabulous. Everyone raved about it!
Thank you so very much!! I don't know what I would do without you.
Kudos to the Chef!!!!
Charlene – The beef stroganoff pies were fantastic!!! Warming them was the best cooking Ivy’s done in months. Seriously, they were marvelous. Great flavor and they warmed perfectly, coming to the table steaming and browned but not overcooked. You can fix our dinner any time. Heck, you can move into any bedroom you want in this house!
Charlene is amazing. I will never use another caterer. She did a company dinner for us last night. We had beef bourguignon, cauliflower, brussels, greek salad and chocolate cake and it was all amazing!!!!!
Everyone LOVED it, especially Eddie. We will definitely order that from you again. They all thought is was delicious and different. You are the best. We had a great time celebrating Eddies bday. See you soon and thanks again for coming up with such a great main course for our celebration.
I have worked with Charlene for over 30 years, from my business dinner parties, husband's events, graduation parties, farewell luncheons, retirement parties, reunions and more. Her food is superb. Other than her grilled shrimp, never the same menu and always with her guidance and suggestions that are appropriate and blend together beautifully.
Charlene is a seasoned professional who always listens to your ideas,then makes them better. Normally she will edit by reducing the number of items you thought were necessary---too much, too many which is clearly not in her best financial interest in the short run, but you trust her and are a loyal, repeat customer, who has enjoyed those above listed events rather than dreading all the work involved. She elevates your event and makes it special. Her staff then makes it easy because they are as professional as she is. They are trained and experienced and make an event seamless because they are prepared and can respond to the unexpected.(which does not mean interrupting you)
Her presentation of the food and the appearance of her tables, are original and artful. It is her attention to detail and her certainty of how good she is that makes it such a pleasure to work with her.
Hi Charlene, everything was so delicious and beautifully displayed!!! Thank you so much. The cake was gorgeous and so moist and delicious. We loved the cheeses, tenderloin, shrimp, potato salad....everything was a big hit! Thank you for taking so much care and time to make it a special occasion for us. We love you!!! We truly loved everything.
Every dish was delicious and beautifully presented. Guests departed filled with good will and superb gourmet food. Thank you, Charlene!
"Charlene and Denaya
Thank you for all your help with the shower I had on Sunday. The food was the best. So many compliments and empty plates!
I will definitely call on you again the next time I am in need of a caterer. You truly are outstanding.
"Also, meant to call you because I was looking through some magazine and saw the most beautifully styled wedding AND IT WAS YOU!!!!!! I was so thrilled. You’ve kicked it up into a whole new league. That Martha Stewarts got nothin on you!"
“We celebrated our son’s graduation from high school on Friday with an amazing array of food and drink prepared by Charlene and her team. This is the third time we have welcomed Charlene into our home to celebrate special family events and for her to work her magic. She never disappoints. Everything was perfect, from the special cocktails to the crab cakes, mini BLTs, lobster rolls, steak sandwiches, pasta with Bolognese and a beautiful array of flowers. Our graduate (a football lineman) picked out the entire menu. He was the first through the food line and after inhaling a plate of food heaped high, I asked him how it was. He replied that it was exactly what he wanted for his big day, and everything tasted better than he could have imagined. But for how good the appetizers and main meal were, the best was saved for last: a hot homemade blueberry pie, fresh out of the oven, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I consider myself a blueberry pie connoisseur, and I can honestly say that Charlene makes the BEST blueberry pie I have ever eaten. Thankfully she made us an extra one so we continue to enjoy slices of heaven on earth after the party. Thank you Charlene for, once again, making our special event even more special and truly memorable."
-- Tom Repke & Karla Palmer
"Charlene! Thanks for catering a special, LOVELY event for Jack!! Your flower arrangements were simply beautiful and the food was just the best!! I will never "go it alone" when hosting an occasion. You're hired forever ... You leave no detail unattended. It was a perfect night. You and your team are just wonderful! ❤️❤️❤️"
-- K. Palmer
Hi Charlene...It was absolutely amazing...THE BEST SHOWER...EVER!!! Every single guest raved about our menu!! Hit it out of the park!! You are the very best...and Jordan...and Monica...the whole package! Can't wait to book our Xmas party.
"Spent all morning looking at the beautiful wedding photos re-living one of the most creative weddings I've ever been to! The Menu was delicious and soooo beautifully arranged! Charlene you are an amazing TALENT!!"
"Let me first off by saying that I have a very high standard for quality and service, and the overall customer experience. Over a month ago I started to plan my wife's nursing surprise party. I reached out to a very well known caterer in the area - Susan Gage, needless to say the initial contact and exchange with their representative was very unprofessional and offensive - I provided info on what I was looking for, asked what my budget was, and when I indicated what I was targeting, I was basically told that "I could not afford them." There was absolutely no available information on what they offered online. Exit stage left the highly overrated Susan Gage, and enter stage right Charlene's Kitchen...
From the very first email to the 47th email, I had rapid responsiveness, flexibility in accommodating my budget I was targeting, great advice, access to a beautiful website with great descriptions, pricing, and a mouth watering variety to choose from. Everything about the experience with Charlene felt right from day 1 and I was thinking to myself this must be "too good to be true," until the day of the event arrived. Luis who was responsible for food prep, serving and clean-up arrived early, was extremely professional and courteous, did a fantastic job with prep and setup, and was on top of everything with over 50+ guests in our home including little children. The food lasted about 30 minutes from the time we opened up the table for dining, and people couldn't stop talking about how great the food was. I will definitely be using Charlene's kitchen in the future, and highly recommend them for any size and type of event - your guests with be left with their taste buds satisfied, and impressed. As a host you will be left with the satisfaction of getting a great return on your investment - providing your guests with great service, food, and you with the ability to enjoy the party, and not have to worry about clean up.
I highly recommend Charlene's kitchen and I am so happy and fortunate to have stumbled upon this hidden gem of a catering service in Old Town. Make sure you hire them for your next event!"
-- P.M. (via Facebook)
"... Yesterday's special, which we ate for dinner, was amazing (there was nothing left over! nothing!!!) and the cake was -- as usual -- divine. You know how happy that cake makes Matt! It is our family's go-to special occasion cake. I know all the other yummy things we stashed in the freezer will be great, too. Thank you for accommodating such a big order."
You never never disappoint!! So incredibly delicious and beautiful to boot! Perfect food for a chilly night with good friends.
"We are huge Charlene fans! We have had both the Friday night dinners and 3 different lasagnas – each one is better than the next, the flavors are amazing and all are a terrific value! We are already looking forward to our next dinner."
Thank you SO much for helping me throw an amazing and absolutely stunning party! I couldn't have done it without you! The compliments are rolling in by the minute as Annabel is frying up delicious crab cakes for lunch:)Thank you thank you!!! What an awesome evening!!!!! Happy thanksgiving,Xoxo"
"The food received rave reviews and was so delicious!! All my neighbors asked about it and where we got it!! Still dreaming of the ham biscuits and Pimento cheese....!! So yummy!! I can't thank you and Charlene enough for making this party such a great success with your wonderful food. Look forward to enjoying some more in the future!
Have a wonderful Holiday and a very Happy New Year!!"
"... I would like to say thank you for the wonderful food! The event was a huge success. Many of the residents were interested in your information and we will most definitely be using your services for future events!
I saw the O'Learys last night and they raved and raved about the tenderloin!!! Thank you so much for accommodating me, it meant a lot to the family that you personally delivered it too. Caitie was particularly appreciative. YOU ARE THE BEST!
EVERYTHING WAS FANTASTIC!! Could not have improved a thing! Those Haricot Vertes were to die for; but then every single item of food was so delicious. And it made it so much easier for me since my family was here for my Big Birthday (70) on Saturday, Halloween. This was the best solution for me --
The delivery service was perfect, arriving precisely at 11:00am on Sunday morning, with full instructions for everything.
I could not have done this without your able help!
Everything was so delicious and could not have been more perfect!
I will definitely use your catering services in the future!
Charlene and Staff,
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We had such a fabulous day, largely due to your amazing staff, food, talent and support. We can’t thank you enough. Our guests and we were truly overwhelmed by the beautiful presentation and the attention to detail. It all worked perfectly with our open house theme. Your staff was amazing, always friendly and so attentive, and lets not forget the wonderful food they served – so yummy! Our guests are still raving about the food. Everything was well beyond our expectations. We also appreciated the thoughtful way you helped us plan and set up our Golden Anniversary party. I don’t know if you realize it, but you have provided consistently great service to us for over 20 years. Cheers.
-- N.and J. Lisy
Everything was terrific. Really, really good....great recommendations on the menu.
You always, always do a superb job. If you ever need a reference for a future client or event, let me know. We are a huge fan.
Thank you for everything....
... we tried the shrimp and grits - YUM! And the cupcakes. So good!!
The only negative thing is that now my kids want you to cook ALL OF OUR MEALS!
Thank you again!! I feel so lucky.
This is my family's favorite cake -- for birthdays, anniversaries, Mothers Day, ANY day! It has the perfect crumb, and rich banana flavor. Plus, the cream cheese frosting is delicious (and I'm not usually a frosting person). This cake is perfection!
(On our 2015 Valentine's Day Menu)
OMGosh! Exquisite. We especially loved the roasted/grilled asparagus and beets. And the lamb chops and potatoes and especially the mini-cupcakes!
This is the best way to celebrate: a gourmet dinner from Charlene's Kitchen at home in front of the fireplace, watching a movie enjoying our favorite wine. No reservations, no high prices, no hassle. No leftovers either!
There are no adjectives to adequately describe how wonderful the butternut squash ravioli was. Mark said it was a definite keeper -- high praise! And you know how much we love the cake. Thank you so much!
-- Nancy Blackburn, on the Mini BLTs
Cake was fabulous and all the guests fought over the last two slices. You would not believe what people were offering for those slices. Gabriel and I both commented that you run a great business and we are lucky to have found you. Thank you!
I have been attending Christmas parties at the The Little Garden Spot for the last several years and Charlene's Kitchen has catered each and every one. You would think that over the years there would be a repeat menu or at least some familiar reiteration of cuisine. Nope. Each Christmas party has been unique and always wonderfully stimulating to the palette. Charlene never disappoints and always delivers an outstanding event.
A note of thanks - Everyone at our Thanksgiving table took one bite from their plates and declared, this is the best Thanksgiving dinner we ever tasted! Honestly, they said that, and my son said that compliment about food from him is a rarity. He was analyzing your creamed onions and peas, trying to figure out the magic ingredients??? Don't tell. We'll be back for more next year.
Once again, you and your fabulous team made magic happen. The food was wonderful and beautiful and it was great fun having you all here. Thank you so much
-- K & D Abramson
I feel so healthy every time I serve a cup of your gazpacho. It is a meal all in itself! Thanks again.
OMG, amazing, amazing. The peach pie was to die for...everyone was commenting on the crusts so clearly they have the same issues I do...I served the tomato pie as an appetizer and it could not have been more perfect...definitely, definitely a success (thank you so much)!!!
"A perfect Summer Party. Charlene and her staff REALLY know how to cook and put together a fabulous party. Everyone raved about the food......from the stuffed mushrooms, grilled shrimp, light, light Pasta salad, filet Mignon, to the outstanding grilled corn salad. Oh, did I forget the clams on the barbeque........To die for!!
Charlene and her staff arrived promptly, made the table look wonderful, and did a great clean-up. Everyone was impressed by how polite and personable all the workers were. I specifically asked that my brass and wood utensils get hand-washed. 'Oh,' Said Charlene, 'we hand wash and dry everything.'
I highly recommend Charlene and her staff for your event. Very professional! I don't think you can do better than Charlene!
Thank you again."
-- J & B Smock
I first experienced Charlene's cuisine almost ten years ago. I thought it the best I'd ever had by a local caterer. The I moved and/or she moved and I lost track of her. Finally after years of looking for her, I found her again. Recently, she's provided two meals for me, each one a dinner for twelve. Her food continues to be as outstanding as I remembered it. She hasn't lost her touch, only improved it.
We had tasted Charlene's food 15 years ago and had never forgotten it. We'd known that if we ever needed a caterer, we'd call her. So we did. No taste test. No deliberation. It was that good that we knew we'd love it. It was even better than anticipated. We had an eclectic group of guests with varying tastes. Charlene had a menu that catered to all, and we heard rave reviews including "This is the best food I've ever had" from a couple of foodie guests who have traveled the world. This woman can cook. WOW!
KP and I have had a couple of “post party” discussions and each one has come back to praising Charlene’s amazing staff and food and EVERYTHING. We love you ALL to death and are so appreciative of your fine work! You’re an amazing group—everything was PERFECT.
Our lunch guests (leftovers!!) are arriving shortly.....THANK YOU!
I wanted to let you know what BIG hit the leek pie and sour cream cake were. The pie is one of the best things ever! My husband agrees. Can't wait to order another!
... What I didn't expect is the whole package you bring to your business, beside the reputation of a great cook, your presentation is so inspiring, I am dumbstruck to find someone who understands food is all about “sight, smell and taste”. Being in the “sight” business, I know how important it is to present my products in the best way possible, for this reason, I appreciate your effort so much; and with this visit, it gives me renewed energy to come the King and N. West Street intersection, and making our corner the best way possible!
--- P.Z. - Chinoiserie
"Dear Charlene, Denaya and the CK catering team,
Having watched my mother and Charlene work together to concoct fabulous, memorable events over the years, I had come to know that a gathering bearing Charlene's touch was always a special one. Still, the magic that Charlene whipped up on our wedding day exceeded my high expectations. Throughout the planning process in the months leading up to our big day, Charlene guided us with her event planning expertise and her invaluable instinct for design. The result was truly magical - her elegant displays captured my vision perfectly, the service and the flow of the evening felt flawless, and the food... oh, the food! Charlene's finished product was simply fantastic.
As I walked onto the lawn at the beginning of our reception, my eyes scanned the scene, taking it all in: the people I love all around me, the beautiful scenery and the heavenly weather, and the fabulous food and decor. I thought of Charlene with her signature handkerchief tied around her head and that big smile on her face. My own smile grew bigger knowing that Char had to be looking upon the same scene, knowing herself that, yet again, she had knocked it out of the park. It just doesn't get any better than Charlene... her talent is immeasurable. She is far more than a chef - she is a creative - an artist with a keen eye for design, and a passion for what she does. We are eternally grateful to the Charlene's Kitchen team for the beauty and flavor they brought to our wedding, and for their big hearts.
Charlene's team is sure to customize your event in order to achieve the vision you have from the outset. With your party in Charlene's hands, get excited - it will be one to remember.
Oh, and do yourself a favor and try her lasagnas. :)
Thank you, Charlene!"
Just had a small catered party at my office. Every bit of the food was a hit. I have 5 new coconut almond cupcake converts, the tomato cheese and leek onion pie were the main entree highlight. My boss who never eats sweets had two cupcakes, and one picky eater made sure to take the left over slice of pie and the corn and snap pea salad home. No leftovers for me. Thank goodness I ordered an extra tomato pie or my husband would have been highly upset with no leftovers! Perfect food, perfect party. Charlene Rocks!
I can't tell you how much everyone enjoyed 'the package' you prepared for my family this weekend - everything was exceptional as usual BUT that chocolate cake! It was beyond belief! Of course it all disappeared in a day (I just couldn't keep it hidden) so I will be ordering another one very soon.
Thank you for being such a treasure...
--- G.P., September 10th, 2011
Thank you so very much for making our 20th anniversary luncheon a success! Linda was excited when she learned you were catering. The food was fabulous and Rudy was a sweetheart. We tried to get some of your secret recipes out of him but he didn’t budge! He’s not a bad photographer either!
We have only a few leftovers and can imagine how quickly they will disappear tomorrow around lunchtime.
We will all be first in line to purchase your cookbook when it goes on sale.
Many, many thanks!
The Surprise 40th was exactly what I envisioned and wouldn't have been with out Your INCREDIBLE food. Everything was PERFECT and absolutely delicious! It wouldn't have been such a success with out you! xoxoxox
Just to thank you for a fantastic evening on Saturday! Though I have attended many events in the past where you were the caterer, this was the first time I'd had the pleasure of having you cater an event for us .I knew the food would be good, but I just want you to know just how great everything was.. It was a flawless, perfect evening, from beginning to end. Luis and Rodolfo arrived right on time and set to work, making the dining and bar areas look beautiful and putting the finishing touches on dinner. I so thoroughly enjoyed the evening and never had to do anything-- they took care of everything and left the kitchen spotless, which was so much appreciated. Your suggestions for the dinner couldn't have been better-- the chicken marsala and spicy shrimp were delicious as were all the side dishes. A PERFECT fall meal. All our guests raved about the food, as well as the dessert-- an incredible bread pudding that couldn't have fit the season better! One of our friends loved the fact that it was so healthy (well, maybe not the bread pudding....) and another loved the originality and seasonal choices. Your suggestions were all just right.
thanks so, so much for catering our luncheon on Saturday. We will use you for every future event that we have. You made the special event unforgettable and just perfect in every way. Not only was the food absolutely delicious, but the event was also “turnkey.” We did nothing. You organized the perfect colors for the event, told me what flowers would work with those colors, instructed me on how to purchase beautiful cocktail napkins and hand towels, you ordered the tables, chairs, dishes and glassware, and organized the seating – you left no detail unattended, which made for a beautiful event. As for the food, it was wonderful. We received numerous compliments throughout the event and during the days that followed. Your signature drinks (ginger lemonade, iced tea, bloody Marys and mimosas) all had that special “Charlene” touch and were enjoyed by all. The appetizers (suggested by you – mini BLTS and crabcakes) were just delicious and devoured, and all of the luncheon food was expertly prepared and market fresh. Both kids and adults could not get enough of the delicious fare. The homemade peach shortcake dessert was to die for…. Our house smelled heavenly as you baked them fresh for our guests. Wow…. Lastly, you left my house in a condition that was cleaner than it was when you arrived, and your servers/helpers were just lovely in every way.
Thanks again for everything. You are special. I wish you could prepare all of my family meals every single day – what a treat !!
Charlene has the best chocolate cake in Washington! If you're having a bad day, head over to Charlene's, get a big slice of that chocolate cake, and all your troubles will disappear........
What a delicious way to spend a summer morning! I can't thank you enough for the wonderful grilling class today. From the warm coffee cake awaiting us upon our arrival to the light yet satisfying grilled peach dessert, all of the dishes were remarkable. The class was truly a peek behind the curtain, revealing many of the Charlene secrets I have salivated over for years, including the unsurpassed grilled shrimp! I can't wait to attempt it at home. Thanks for providing such a memorable morning for our group. My happy, grilled-Charlene-food-induced glow lasted for days.
Charlene.... Fridays brisket dinner was Amazing!.... We're convinced you have a magic wand back there in that kitchen!
Charlene catered a party for fifty people at my house and dinner tasted as if she had cooked it in my kitchen for an intimate group of six. The entire meal was delicious – including her beef tenderloin, chicken piccata, and vegetable lasagna, topped off with two of her delicious cakes – chocolate and carrot. And her staff was so professional and helpful that I never had to set foot in the kitchen; I spent the evening enjoying my guests instead. I received numerous compliments from my guests on both the catering and the service.
Thanks again for everything