Shirley Casey

shirley-casey-fairfax-caterer

Shirley Casey is the creative genius behind Shirley’s Catering, which for decades has been a Fairfax Station-Clifton institution.

Described as “a full service, off-site catering company bringing our kitchen to you,” Shirley’s Catering is frequently the first and only place that individuals and businesses turn to for help with entertaining.

Shirley’s Catering offers a wealth of choices for your menu. Casey, whose personal taste in food is “eclectic,” enjoys “reinventing” herself in her cooking. As a result, you will never be bored with the same tired dishes prepared for every other event.

“I am always looking to see what is new and what goes well with my clients’ taste buds,” she states with a smile.

Listing just a few of Casey’s creations will give you a hint of the tantalizing treats in store for your own taste buds: Chicken wrapped in phyllo with almonds, honey, cinnamon and scallions; whole poached salmon dressed and served with cucumber dill sauce; caramelized Granny Smith apples and toasted almonds in a phyllo tart shell; rosemary chicken satays with cranberry relish; and mini-beef Wellingtons with Béarnaise sauce.

Shirley’s Catering has an impressive team of two chefs, two kitchen staff, three office workers and almost forty part-time servers. They attend classes and periodic in-house training because, Casey comments, “We are always our toughest critics.”

The service is impeccable. After Shirley’s staff has arranged the food, your dining room will look its best. At an anniversary party my husband and I gave recently, I had no idea what to do with the 60 cloth napkins I had ironed or the attendant silverware. Noting my puzzlement, Sharon, one of the capable servers, took that task off my hands. At that point, I realized I had nothing to worry about, just accept the many compliments for the elegant party and the fabulous food.

“Having staff at your event allows you to entertain your guests and enjoy your party with no party anxiety,” Casey says. “Once you have staff, you will never go back to doing it all on your own again.”

Before her staff leaves, Shirley notes, “We always clean up better than when we came. It relieves the clients to know that they don’t have to clean up or put things away.”

Casey enjoys catering for large events, as well as smaller private parties. Several of the Redskins, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, the City of Fairfax, Ferrari of Washington and ExxonMobil are repeat clients.

Big events in fields are “totally fun.” In October, for example, her company prepared ”a wonderful lunch under the tent” for the National Sporting Library. The 285 guests arrived at Llangollen Farm in gorgeous, vintage horse-drawn carriages.

A self-described “Air Force brat,” Shirley Casey moved to Virginia with her parents when she was a toddler. Although she lived in Japan, California and several European countries, she said, “Virginia is my home.” Her family finally settled in a house on Union Mill Rd., long before Little Rocky Run, Union Mill, St. Timothy’s and Centreville High were built.

Cooking is in Shirley’s genes. Her mother and grandmother were Danish bakers, who filled their homes with the heady aroma of fresh pastries. Because her father was an Air Force officer, the Caseys entertained frequently. Shirley and her mother did all the cooking for the many military parties they hosted, as well as weddings, birthday parties and showers for members of the family and several neighbors.

Back when Davis General Store had a gravel parking lot and Colonel Gaylor owned it, Shirley was hired to manage the deli. Barbecue and sandwiches were the specialties of the house. Her first catering job was a picnic for United Brick and Block in Manassas. “We roasted 5 pigs and made all the trimmings and sides for 800 guests,” she stated. Her next event was a birthday party at the Watergate for Senator Bob Dole.

From that point on, Shirley’s Catering soared. Casey is known and admired by countless customers, and in return, she states, “I cherish all my clients, many of whom are now considered family.”