“Instantly compatible.” That’s how Little Sister Charlotte’s mom describes the relationship between her daughter and Big Sister Colleen Kenney. As the middle child of a large family—two older sisters and two younger brothers—living in South Boston, Charlotte’s mom felt that her youngest daughter needed someone who was available “just for her, someone she doesn’t have to share.” From the moment they met, it was clear that Colleen was that someone.
Over the next couple of years Colleen and Charlotte spent time together attending sporting events, going to the movies and often just talking. They also liked to cook for each other. Colleen soon learned that Charlotte had a passion for cooking and often helped her mother cook special meals for the family. Knowing of Charlotte’s interest in the culinary arts, Colleen decided to sign the two up as volunteers at Big Sister’s annual fundraising event held at downtown restaurant, Radius.
Charlotte spent her time at Radius preparing for the event, but what she really wanted was a chance to “get her hands dirty” in the kitchen. When the staff at Radius learned of Charlotte’s enthusiasm for cooking they invited her back for an afternoon of hands-on culinary experience. Not only did Charlotte have the opportunity to prep the herbs for that night’s meal, learn knife skills and get to watch professional chefs in action, she also learned to love a food she never thought she could…mushrooms!
When one of the chefs learned of her aversion to mushrooms, he became determined to find a way for her to like them. “I don’t know what he did with them, but it was the best thing I ever tried,” said Charlotte. “I eat them all the time now!”
After that day, fueled by Colleen’s encouragement, Charlotte continued to pursue her culinary dreams. In the fall of 2006, Charlotte entered a unique program at Johnson & Wales College of Culinary Arts in Rhode Island. While still considered a senior at her own high school—able to go to prom and graduate with her class—Charlotte is also spending the year as a freshman at Johnson & Wales so that she can get a head start on her culinary career.
Big Sister Colleen could not be more proud of Charlotte’s achievements. “Charlotte is wonderful. She has such a good sense of who she is, she doesn’t want to be Rachel Ray, she just wants her own little place or to run a catering business where she can create her own menu and be her own boss,” says Colleen.
According to Charlotte’s mom, her daughter might not have followed her passion had it not been for Colleen’s influence. “Colleen has given Charlotte a lot of confidence, helping her to think about fulfilling her dreams and knowing that she can succeed.”
On June 3, 2007, Charlotte’s dreams will come full-circle, as she returns to Radius as a special “guest chef” to help prepare one of the courses for this year’s Celebrity Chef event.