The Boarding House in Chicago announced Kelly Peterson Bates as head sommelier, part of an all-women leadership team together with owner and Master Sommelier Alpana Singh and Executive Chef Tanya Baker. Peterson Bates oversees the wine, spirits, and beer program at The Boarding House, sharing her knowledge with guests through guided wine tastings and training the talented staff of servers—many of whom are also sommeliers-in-training.
“Kelly is a natural fit for this position at The Boarding House, developing versatile bottle and by-the-glass programs that seamlessly match Chef Baker’s contemporary, internationally inspired cuisine, “ Alpana Singh says. “Kelly’s background in music allows her to have a unique perspective when selecting the right pairings, and her dedication to the craft and passion for wine made her an obvious choice when expanding The Boarding House team.”
Peterson Bates’ wine program features a rotating list of “of the moment” wines and over 400 wines available by the bottle. The Boarding House also has 19 wines by-the-glass, which are also available for half-price during Happy Hour from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Monday through Friday in the bar.
Prior to joining The Boarding House, Peterson Bates worked at Sunda New Asian in Chicago as a server and within one year, rose through the ranks to become the restaurant’s lead beverage trainer. Early in her career, she worked as a server at Parish Café in Boston, and at La Cucina’s in Hanover, Pennsylvania.
While studying at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, and while she was also serving at Parish Café, a wine representative for Cycles Gladiator led a training for the staff. It was Peterson Bates’ first official tasting, and she displayed an instant knack for identifying flavor profiles. It was the first time she learned of the Court of Master Sommeliers, and was inspired. Peterson Bates took a year off to live in Israel, where she also visited her first. It was during this exploratory year that she came to understand the synergy between food and wine and became inspired to make it her life’s work after graduating Magna Cum Laude with a degree in performance and songwriting from Berklee.
The connection between her musical talent and her natural affinity for wine tasting isn’t lost on Peterson Bates.
“Interestingly, there are a number of sommeliers nationwide that have classical music training,” she says. “Music speaks to similar senses and tickles the same part of the brain. The parallels are there, both music and wine share a story of history, travel and culture.”
Peterson Bates is working toward her Master Sommelier certification and has passed the Level 2 exam. She is also is also Level 2 Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) certified—the foremost international body in the field of wines and spirits education, with a suite of sought-after qualifications—and is preparing for the advanced (WSET). She also has aspirations of completing the Cicerone Certification Program.