Maple & Ash, the award-winning steakhouse in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, announced the appointment of Daniel Pilkey as Head Sommelier & Director of Wine Imports. Pilkey is well-known in the Chicago wine world, as he served as Restaurant Director & Sommelier at Sixteen, where he was credited with revamping the beverage program, gaining a second Michelin star, and executing some of Chicago’s most impressive tasting menus. At Maple & Ash, Pilkey reunites with Partner & Executive Chef Danny Grant, who he worked with as Wine Director at RIA when the restaurant received the honor of two Michelin stars in 2010 and 2011.
“At Maple & Ash, I will be looking for opportunities to make the beverage program special,” says Pilkey, who will showcase his craft each evening as Head Sommelier. With the rapidly growing interest in drinking and collecting quality wines, Pilkey is also charged with creating an exclusive Wine Club for Maple & Ash patrons and local Chicagoans. With the best wines from an array of hand-picked vineyards and hard-to-find favorites, the Wine Club will deliver these select wines to members’ homes. In conjunction with these efforts, Pilkey will act as Director of Wine Imports, where his relationships abroad will provide unique access to wines from vineyards around the world.
Wine is in his DNA, as Pilkey grew up in the small farming town of Livermore, CA, just east of the San Francisco Bay area, best known for its Wente Vineyards Winery. Pilkey began his career at Wente, the oldest, continually operating, family-owned vineyard in the United States. In his 7-year tenure, Pilkey learned the ins and outs of the wine business and credits the experience as solidifying what would be a career in wine and food.
Pilkey is currently pursuing his Master Sommelier certification and will complete the final two components this year. He also serves as the Education Director for Second City Sommeliers, Chicago’s most celebrated tasting group with more than 17 members from across Illinois and Wisconsin.