This Sommelier Series is supported by The Foley Food & Wine Society
Assistant General Manager & Beverage Director, Shaw’s Crab House
Since 2018, Kat Hawkins has been navigating the extensive list of wine and spirits featuring American producers and classic international regions at Shaw’s Crab House. The River North staple opened its doors in 1984 and is credited with bringing the first Oyster Bar to Chicago. Hawkins prides herself on hand-selecting sips that pair with the carefully-crafted dishes from Shaw’s kitchen. The sommelier favors old-world white wines with their nuanced delicate notes that lend themselves to being ideal complements to fresh seafood.
In 2019, she was named one of America’s “Best New Sommeliers” by Wine & Spirits Magazine. Hawkins is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Certified Specialist of Wine and Spirits through the Society of Wine Educators.
Prior to her residency as the assistant general manager and beverage director at Shaw’s, Hawkins fine-tuned her skills in Detroit’s bustling restaurant scene. She worked her way up the service industry ladder, working the floor and behind the bar, learning the ins and outs of hospitality. While working as a bartender, Hawkins was offered the opportunity to acquire her sommelier certification which led to a four-year stint at Wright & Company as general manager and beverage director. After having had the itch to move to the Windy City for nearly a decade, Hawkins jumped at the chance when a friend reached out about an open position at Shaw’s. Since then, the sommelier has made Chicagoland her home and is looking forward to brighter days for the local restaurant scene.
Charles Schneider General Manager & Wine Director, Webster’s Wine Bar
With two decades of experience in the service industry under his belt, Charles Schneider made his way to Chicago’s oldest wine bar, Websters, in 2015.
Prior to Websters, the sommelier paid his dues attending tastings, taking pages of notes in seminars, and racking up countless hours of training for his certification. Schneider proceeded to calibrate his skillset over the years working for various concepts in Kansas City and Colorado before finally landing in Chicagoland just before 2010.
The seasoned sommelier manages Websters’ cellar, which is loaded with anywhere from 450-500 selections with a heavy emphasis on natural wines. Schneider curates the collection to capture the experiences he’s acquired from his travels, relationships, and his own personal favorites that he yearns to enjoy with guests and neighbors of Websters.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing bars and restaurants to close down, Schneider got creative by launching an online bottle shop in March. The sommelier carefully handpicked bundles of select wines from the bar’s cellar for curbside pickup. Schneider’s pandemic pivot allowed him to maintain his relationship with neighbors and clientele during a time of uncertainty for the industry. With dining regulations still in a state of flux for the city of Chicago, Schneider takes pride in the fact that he is able to roll with the punches and put his best foot forward as the general manager and wine director for Webster’s Wine Bar.