Last week I was privy to attend an exciting event at Kendall College for their Beverage Management Program initiative. Brought together was a panel to discuss Beverage Trends: The Movement in Chicago. You’ll see why it was titled rightfully so. But more than that, it was an event to raise awareness to the community and industry about Kendall’s Beverage Management initiative.
Guest speakers included:
Mike Siegel, Innovation Brewer from Goose Island Brewery
Aaron Sherman, Sommelier III/Assistant GM at Girl & The Goat
Tremaine Atkinson, Distiller / Owner of CH Distillery (Chicago’s sole distillery and cocktail bar)
Martin & Denise Cody, owners of Cellar Angels (an online wine company with a private membership program)
A pretty solid panel don’t you think? And they brought great samples of wine, beer, and gin to taste!
At the helm of getting this group together for the discussion on Beverage Trends in Chicago is John Laloganes, Assistant Professor of Hospitality Management at Kendall College, Sommelier III, and author of several Beverage Management related books. He has maintained an integral role in crafting and driving their new Beverage Management Program initiative through extensive research, training, and collaborative efforts with select industry partners. And if this event was any indication in the direction the program is headed, Kendall has the unique position in being the leading training ground for those serious about the Beverage Management profession, especially with one-of-a-kind instructors like Laloganes. With his considerable industry experience, passion for what he teaches, and engaging ways, Kendall has an exceptional instructor in their pocket. I can honestly say this last part, as he was my own Food and Beverage Management instructor when I was in culinary school.
Before I talk about the panel and their contributions, let me back up and give you a little bit of the mood of the event. Being the observer that I am, I notice various types of attendees ranging from young students, international students, friends, colleagues, and industry partners. During the “mingling” hour, several samples brought by the guest speakers were being offered for tastings along with small bites prepared by a chef at Kendall and served by Kendall students. Beverage samples included Goose Island’s Lolita and Juliet, Chicago Distillery’s very own London Dry and Key Gin, as well as Cellar Angel’s contribution of Maldonado Chardonnay and Bolen Merlot. (and they were all delicious) Being able to taste Lolita, a crisp sour beer with some funk, and pairing it with a fried pickle and a pretzel was a treat. Several people were taking pictures with their cameras, ipads, and smart phones, including myself. I don’t know if most knew what to expect going in, settling in and sitting neatly.
The discussion begins as John Laloganes energetically walks through a brief overview of the Beverage Management initiative Kendall has formulated and developed over the last several months. Describing the different courses in the beverage management concentration, within the hospitality management program. Courses include introductions to Beers, Wine, and Spirits, Beer and Fermentation, Intermediate and Advanced Wine Knowledge, Spirits and Mixology, and even courses tapping into coffee and tea. These courses cover a wide spectrum being offered in a single program. Along with these course concentrations, Kendall will work with select industry partners in efforts to continue their mission in being at the forefront in beverage management both locally and globally. For more information check out their Facebook Page here.
The Trend Panel
Each of these speakers brought something unique to the table and provided great insights as to the current state of the beverage industry as well as what trends are likely to transpire in the next few years. All of them are diligently continuing their own drive and labor of love in their respective professions. A collaborative match that syncs with Kendall’s own intonation. And I just have to say they were a genuine kind hearted group. One you would want to sit and have a candid conversation with.
Aaron Sherman starts by talking about his experience in the industry leading up to his current position at Girl & the Goat as Sommelier and Assistant General Manager. Two of his more recognizable roles include serving as Wine Steward at Peninsula Hotel in Chicago in 2007 and taking over the wine program in 2010 at NoMI of Park Hyatt Chicago. He also conducts wine education Classes for the International Sommelier Guild (ISG) in the city. His sense of humor over condensing wine lists as his roles have evolved helped set the tone of the of the discussion and was appreciated by many. More than wine lists, he was able to convey the many hats he wears as Sommelier and General Manager. From working with rotating menus, to finding ways to make sure each patron (142,000 a year) has the opportunity to have that all important conversation of what to drink, to keeping up and staying ahead of what current beverage programs at other establishments are doing. His experience, approachability, and his drive for excellence all exemplify why he is one of Chicago’s top sommeliers and a capable model to have in Kendall’s Trend Panel.
Next up is Mike Siegel, Innovation Brewer at Goose Island Brewery. That is on Fulton, not the Brew Pub most are familiar with. He, along with a crew of brewers, have the task of crafting and producing all of Goose Island’s exquisite beers, with the exception of 312 which is made at a couple of other locations. He indicates that in the past year they were able to put out 32 different beers to market. That’s a tall order, but one they have mastered quite well. Siegel continues to seek out new beers to add to the growing list Goose Island offers. His in depth knowledge of beer and fermentation is displayed as he describes using different yeast strains to produce unique flavors, along with adding local ingredients, and even tapping into old archived recipes as a means to put a new spin on an old recipe. One of the current beers being worked on is a combination of saison and sake. Several nods of approval were given as he talked about this combination, and most were excited to see it come to fruition, including the rest of the panel. Again showing why Goose Island is an industry leader, and why brewers like Siegel are making it happen. I had the opportunity to talk with him for a few minutes, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that even the “muck” that is removed from the tanks is repurposed and used for yeast in food for animals.
We move to Tremaine Atkinson, of CH Distillery . The first distillery in Chicago, and with its very own cocktail bar. In his white coat, he dives in talking about his beginnings with home brewing, his infatuation with fermentation, and his simple love of the drink. That is how he lead up to opening the distillery, where the main spirits produced are vodka and gin. Each attendee had two clear glasses in front of them, containing gin samples from the distillery. As Atkinson goes on about his passion for vodka and describes how gin is made, he walks us through a tasting of the two gins laid before us. Not being one to normally drink gin, I’m eager to taste. He explains in detail his quest to make a gin for the gin drinker, and also the non gin drinker. Down to switching out ingredients, but keeping the structure and definition of gin in tact. Each were different in their own right, but both drank smoothly. With being the first in the city, Tremaine has set a pace for other distilleries to follow, as he continues to make and find great spirits and cocktails for those who also share a love of the drink.
Denise and Martin Cody are just as enthusiastic in sharing their story of how Cellar
Angels came to be, and what they actually do as an online wine business. Having
spent several years owning and running a wine retail shop in Chicago they are clearly knowledgeable, but also passionate about their mission. Which is to seek out small and family run wineries out of California in the effort to connect them to a larger audience. In addition they are active in select charitable causes, many of which are for children. Through Cellar Angels they are able to provide assistance to those charities by donating portions of sales to those causes. Moreover with their extensive experience in the industry, their love of wine, and partnering vineyards, they are able to expose other wine lovers to exclusive purchase opportunities, while they are helping others. Their mission is simple, though their efforts carry more weight than most. It’s easy to see why they fit right in on Kendall’s Trend Panel.
When asked about trends likely to be seen in the next three years, answers were a mix of light hearted and earnest predictions. Ranging from seeing merlot and classic varietals make a come back, the death of malbec, more distilleries cropping up in the city, growth in online wine purchases, to pulling retired archived recipes to mix with modern brewing techniques. By the end everyone was leaning forward and relaxed, waiting for more to be shared.
A positive and compassionate group, and sincere story tellers was what I was able to discern in a short period of time. Each are passionate about their ongoing challenges and achievements in the industry. Combined with Kendall’s Beverage Management initiative, this chief collaboration will help sustain Kendall as a thriving and enduring source of competitive edge in both their local and global efforts. It will be exciting and refreshing to see how the program takes off and evolves in the next few years. Well done Kendall, well done.
- Kendall College Releases Forecast on 2014 Hospitality Trends (sys-con.com)
*** Several photos provided by Kendall College