Jerald received his bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Chicago, completed post-graduate work in the arts, and has over a decade of food & beverage management and event management experience. He has developed beverage programs and lists for many of the Midwest's major cultural institutions and trained thousands of service personnel in all facets of wine, spirits and cuisine.
In 1999 he came on-board as a consultant for BTI, helping to develop e-commerce applications for BTI's product review databases. In 2000, he was hired as Tasting Director. As a man experienced in both the arts and business, he brings a robust palette of organizational and creative skills to the Institute and is directly responsible for administering and marketing all of BTI's tasting and private consultation programs. His writings on spirits, wine and beer can regularly be found on Tastings.com and in All About Beer, the Chicago Tribute, and Restaurant Hospitality magazines. He is a beverage contributor to the CNBC television network, BusinessWeek TV, and BBC's Radio International and is often consulted on and quoted by the New York Times Business 2.0, Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, Reuters, and other national and international publications on the subjects of wines, beers, and spirits.
He loves to travel and learn from wine, beer and spirits producers around the world and is developing an online series that will share his insights and discoveries. In what little spare time he has, he is a musician and composer with several albums and movie soundtracks to his credit. He also has an intense passion for pursuing what he calls the "Three C's" of the beverage and entertaining industries: culture, cuisine and celebration. However, wherever he goes, he seems to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince people that he actually works for a living.
VP Strategic Juggling
Debra began her food career serving hash and flipping burgers at the local Woolworth's at the tender age of 15. Her passion for food led her to restaurant management school, where she received an A.S. in Applied Sciences. She has worked in the food industry for more than 30 years, including a stint with Arnie Morton and 15 years with the Chicago Caterers and Culinary Enterprises. Debra left the brutal schedule of the food industry to become a mother, an occupation in which, by comparison (she says), the hours are minimal and the pay is great. Breaking her nine-month abstinence from drink led her to the perfect job; she can organize and rally the troops all day long, and taste the day's leftover samples at leisure. She like Champagne, chardonnay, and rosé wines, gin & tonics, and Irish stouts.
Sales & Marketing Specialist
Bringing her vast knowledge of the beverage industry to the Tastings team as lead Sales & Marketing Specialist, Jaclyn served 10 years in managing import, distribution and direct to consumer wine retail channels. Credited with safe passage of over 100 containers of wine from the around the world to multiple points in the US, and private label wine development of 20+ brands. Enjoying her passion to help people learn more and gain better access to quality wine, spirits and beer, Jaclyn joined the Tastings team in 2015 to jumpstart digital marketing strategies in social media outreach, affiliate marketing and business brand development. She brings her love of brooding Italian Reds and complex, delicious German Rieslings to every wine party she hosts. When she's not researching what's new in design culture, media, magazines and blogger feeds you can find her at industry events where she will convert any wine taster to a European wine lover.