Nathan Holgate, General ManagerA native to the midwest and son of a 3rd generation baker, Nathan Holgate was born into the world of food and hospitality. He has a bachelor’s degree in music, over 10 years in customer service management, and tasted cuisines and wines on six continents during his time travelling with Holland America Cruise Lines.
City Winery Chicago couldn’t have offered him a more perfect pairing. He has worked in restaurants from Chicago, to California to the Vegas Strip and most recently was General Manager of Lakeview’s Palette Bistro which offered a fresh take on the neighborhood restaurant. Nathan is thrilled to be part of something completely new to Chicago’s restaurant and music scene – finally allowing him to join his career in hospitality management with his passion for music and entertainment. Nathan hopes to create once in a lifetime experiences for you and your guests each and every day of the week.
Andres Barrera, Executive ChefChef Barrera was first inspired to cook watching the early greats on television. Greats such as Jeff Smith, Martin Yan, Julia Childs, Jack Tripper and the Swedish Chef inspired Barrera to find out more about this "cooking". At the tender age of 10 he turned to the matriarchs in his family; his mother, his grandmothers and his aunts. These women taught him the comforting properties of a meal. They showed him food should feed the mind and soul as well as satiate the appetite. These early influences led him to Le Cordon Bleu to study classical French and Italian cuisine.
After moving to NYC he worked at every type of restaurant from slinging pizzas at Franny's in Brooklyn to precise cooking and perfect plating techniques at the famed Capital in NYC - all in the pursuit of knowledge and experience. Chef Barrera brings all these experiences and influences to his menu at City Winery, a menu inspired by the wine producing regions of the world designed to relax, surprise and satisfy you.
Barrera is happy to now be back in his home town as he joins the Chicago team.
Todd Carr, Director of Private EventsWith over 15 years of private event experience, Todd has played an active role in celebrations of all sort from private home parties, galas, weddings, and corporate events all in and around the Chicago land area; this experience assures clients that every detail of their event will be executed flawlessly from the flowers, linens, equipment, and most importantly the food.
Possessing a team work mentality, Todd will partner all of City Winery's talent in order to bring you and your guests a top notch memorable event experience.
Robert Kowal, WinemakerRobert Kowal, as a self-identified anhedonic neo-Luddite Misanthrope, may seem an odd choice as City Winery’s Chicago wine maker. But passion rather than ambition or convention has always driven him, be it for cinema, wine, or opera. He came to wine as second career while working as a writer/producer for the PBS cooking series, Hawaii Cooks with Roy Yamaguchi. Befriended on that show by Master Sommelier Chuck Furuya, Robert’s nascent interest in wine blossomed. Determined to pursue the dream of the great American Pinot Noir, he moved from balmy Hawaii to soggy Portland in 1995 and volunteered for harvest with the small but renowned family winery, Bethel Heights. Under the tutelage of wine maker Terry Casteel and viticulturist Ted Casteel, Robert learned the vintner’s craft, moving from cellar rat to assistant winemaker in 5 years. At Bethel Heights, Robert worked with not only excellent estate fruit, but also grapes from some of the best vineyards in Oregon such as Freedom Hill, Jacob Hart, and Seven Springs. In 2001 he established his own small label, Frameworks Wine, specializing in small lots of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. From 1997 to the present he has served on the wine service committee of the International Pinot Noir Celebration, an annual 3-day wine festival held in McMinnville, Oregon.
Robert was the assistant wine maker under David Lecomte at City Winery New York during the inaugural 2008 vintage. For the past two years he has served as the Northwest vineyard liaison, overseeing City Winery’s Oregon and Washington crop. He brings his passion for wine, his love of the vineyard, and his sardonic wit to Chicago – along with one wife, two cats and sixteen manual typewriters. For his life’s third act he plans to sing the role of Wotan for Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2023 production of Wagner’s Ring cycle.
Libby Brickson, Program DirectorLibby joins the Chicago team from City Winery New York. She first discovered City Winery while attending a Calexico concert on a trip to NYC. Charmed by the unique venue she knew it would be a perfect place to apply her experience and pursue her passion for live music. In addition to her experience at City Winery she spent years working for music venues such as the Bottleneck in Lawrence, Kansas and the Crossroads in Kansas City, Missouri; as well as Wakarusa and Harvest Music Festivals all produced by Lawrence based company Pipeline Productions.
In March of 2012, Libby was excited to volunteer at Michael Dorf Presents productions "The music of the Rolling Stones" at Carnegie Hall and "Robert Johnson @ 100" at the Apollo Theater. She is passionate about creating unique concert memories for music lovers everywhere. A native to the midwest, Libby is excited to bring the City Winery experience to Chicago.
Dan Conroe, Marketing Director5 fun facts about Dan Conroe
• Dan made his film debut as an extra in the acclaimed film “Rookie of the Year”
• Dan has worked with the voter registration organization HeadCount for 10 years where he’s registered thousands of voters at concerts and music festivals
• Dan has seen hundreds of concerts but he can’t play the harmonica, recorder, or even a simple drum. He can’t even dance.
• Dan brings his love of live music to City Winery where he helps ensure that guests have incredible experiences at shows.
• Dan loves City Winery so much that he celebrated his wedding in the Chicago venue!
Dustin DuBois, Graphic DesignerDustin joined our team in January of 2016 following being the Graphic Designer and Multimedia Coordinator for Chicago Children’s Choir. His 5+ years of experience lends itself to art direction, branding, multimedia design & editing, and typography. Dustin has had the opportunity to study Art Direction and Design from some of the master Imagineers at Walt Disney Studios after attending the Graphic Design program at Illinois State University in 2011. When Dustin isn’t busy at City Winery he can be found with his nose in a book, exploring all the nooks & crannies Chicago has to offer, or questing for that next great glass of Pinot Noir.
Ryan Monahan, Venue ManagerRyan knows the hospitality and music industry from the ground up…literally. He began his career back in high school by pushing band cases, unloading music trucks, setting up and taking down stage equipment for venues in and around Chicago. He learned the music industry from back to front meeting people and performers. While at House of Blues, Ryan moved quickly up the professional ladder, from Security, to Restaurant Management, and finally served as the Director of the music venue.
Following nine years at HOB, he expanded his background in fine dining restaurant/beverage management over the past 3 years with the Kimpton group. Every position Ryan has held was a step to in the right direction to City Winery. Ryan says, "EVERYONE walking into City Winery is a VIP: from the performers, to our staff, and most especially every guest that walks in our door. I love meeting new people and introducing them to new experiences.”
Adam Kistler, Production ManagerAdam began his career in the world of production and audio while working towards his Technical Theatre Degree from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Though he enjoyed lending his talents to theatrical productions, he found his true passion lied within the music industry. Adam started as an unpaid intern at House of Blues in 2003 and advanced through the ranks of the production team to become a full time audio engineer and, most recently, stage manager. Adam’s years as a sound engineer have allowed him to work with many great artists, including; B.B. King, The Black Keys, Lil’ Wayne, Neon Trees and Martin Short. He also liked to work outside in the heat of the summer at a variety of festivals like Lollapalooza, Sasquatch Music Festival, and one close to his new home at City Winery, the Taste of Randolph.
While his own taste leans towards beverages of a hoppier nature, the delight of a fine glass of wine is not lost on him. Adam is pleased to be a part of City Winery, giving wine lovers a truly enjoyable experience for their palates, as well as their ears.
Emily Fitzgerald, Senior Private Events Sales ManagerEmily’s private event experience spans ten years and touches both ends of the spectrum, from concepting and creating events to torching the crème brulee in the kitchen.Emily graduated from The French Culinary Institute in New York City in April 2003, having studied under Jacques Pepin, Andres Soltner, and Jacques Torres. From there, she entered the field at a small catering company based in Times Square, where she learned on- and off- premise catering, both in the kitchen cooking and in the office writing proposals and invoicing.
When The French Culinary Institute opened a new catering department at the end of 2010, she jumped at the chance to be a part of it. She worked alongside the expert French chefs who taught her. When she moved to Chicago, she found herself at the largest catering company in the Midwest, Blue Plate Catering, where she oversaw some of the biggest and best events in the city at places like Union Station, The Field Museum, Chicago History Museum, The Rookery, The Ivy Room, and Harris Rooftop. She brings a wealth of experience and an eye for detail to her work, and she looks forward to making your special day beautiful and professional.
Rebekah Mahru, Beverage DirectorThis native Chicago polyglot has quite the travel bug, so becoming a sommelier was a natural extension of Rebekah Mahru’s many loves. Before choosing a career in wine, Rebekah traveled to dozens of countries as well as lived in Argentina, Germany, and Spain for extensive periods of time. She has been immersed in the culture of food and wine since her first restaurant job at the age of 14. Since then, Rebekah has worked in either the back of house or front of house of restaurants. Although she originally went to school to be a doctor, she strayed from convention and received a degree in Spanish literature. To her, learning a language can be as romantic as studying wine. The anthropologic aspect to both cannot be overlooked. In language, as in wine, one must learn the culture, history, geography, among much more. Upon moving back from Spain in 2012, she was part of the opening team for RM Champagne Salon in the West Loop. After departing RM, Rebekah began as the wine intern for the now National Wine Director of City Winery, Rachel Driver Speckan. With many hours of dedication to work and study, Rebekah rapidly moved up the ranks from intern to head sommelier, to Assistant Beverage Director. Now, two and a half years later, she is the Beverage Director of City Winery Chicago. She is currently immersed in the training and studies with the Court of Master Sommeliers and received the top score in her class for her certified sommelier exam this past year. Rebekah is extremely humbled and excited to share her passion and nerd-filled love of wine and other fermented beverages with City Winery and Chicago.
Tom Fox, Concierge ManagerTom Fox was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois but has never met the Simpsons. He attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale for much longer than necessary. A deep appreciation of live music, particularly live music in Chicago, is his life blood and the force that drives his very existence. When you meet him for the first time, he will be very kind and accommodating by nature, but please know that he will eventually demand details of your first concert experience, so be prepared.
Ellie Frazier, ControllerA Chicago native, Ellie was a member of the opening team at City Winery Chicago. She has over a decade of hospitality industry experience, from tending bar to planning events. She worked her way through school, attending DePaul University's College of Commerce before taking off for a year of travel and exploration in Central America.
It was during a stint managing a hostel in Guatemala that Ellie cemented her decision to grow her skills within the service industry. She came to City Winery immediately upon her return, moving quickly from the restaurant floor to the office. She loves learning and growing on the job and the daily challenges it provides.
Matt Bolser, Bar ManagerA world traveler and retired Upscale Hawaiian Shirt Designer. He proclaims he was raised by the legendary Hodag in Northern Wisconsin, and loves Cheese and Beer. he hopes to retire in the Yukon Territory someday where he can finally concentrate on writing his novel about collecting rare bottle caps. He wishes all well wishes and hugs for condors.
Veronica Cavanagh Event ManagerVeronica comes to City Winery with a background in Hospitality and Event Coordination. After attending the University of Michigan and graduating in 2012, she had the good fortune to help her older sister plan her beautiful fall wedding, and she was hooked! After earning an internship at one of Michigan’s Top Event Production Companies, Veronica discovered a passion for event production, design and coordination. She has since spent the last 4 years gaining experience in every facet of the industry. From organizing banquets, serving, bartending, production, design, to even spending 8 months on the Island of Kauai planning beautiful destination weddings across the Hawaiian Islands. She is excited to bring her background to City Winery to help execute beautiful events here in Chicago!
Chon Reynoso Pastry Chef