Chelsea Gregoire was on a path to the pulpit when fate intervened and pointed her to the bar world instead. Gregoire is the bar manager for Hotel Revival in Baltimore, overseeing all of the beverage programs. She’s also the founder and owner of Drinkable Genius, a consulting firm that hosts events, teaches classes, and “dabbles” in all aspects of the beverage space — and she holds two theology degrees, including a bachelor of science in religion.
“When I left school I had the opportunity to become a pastor or preacher, but I jumped full time into the service industry because all of my jobs had been in this industry,” she remembers. The first job she ever had was as a barista and it inspired her to “devour” as much information as she could about coffee. That led her to learning about tea and then wine, beer, and spirits.
Gregoire’s background in religion has helped her when creating bar programs. “There are parallels between organized religion and bars,” she says. “What draws people to organized religion is the feeling of acceptance, and the best bars and restaurants in the world do that and make you feel comfortable beyond the food and drink that they serve.”
In her role as owner and founder of Drinkable Genius, she extends acceptance to others in the beverage community. “Drinkable Genius was born out of me realizing that I’m good at throwing parties, being organized behind the bar — and I wanted to dictate how I got paid,” Gregoire laughs. “I’m not calling myself a genius; we’re creating works of genius together and encouraging bartenders to find their own genius through education.”
One of the best parts of her job is being in Baltimore and being a part of the food community there. “There’s beauty here,” she says. “Everyone is rooting for everyone and that makes it a great place to work in food and beverage.”
Gregoire wants to be a mentor and advocate for women and LGBTQIA professionals in the food world. “More than ever I want to encourage people to take up their space,” she says. Building community and being supportive to those already in it is what drives Gregoire’s work day to day and that’s what she wants. “I’m excited to do what I do and bring people along with me as I go.”
Chelsea Gregoire is the bar manager at Hotel Revival and the owner of Drinkable Genius in Baltimore, MD.
Korsha Wilson is a culinary school grad, food writer and host of A Hungry Society, a podcast on Heritage Radio Network that takes a more inclusive look at the food world.