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  WINDY CITY TIMES

In the Life: Chris Schmidt
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-01-27

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As director of catering at the Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile ( a hotel with some gorgeous ballrooms, by the way ), it's safe to say that Chris Schmidt has a lot going on every day—and two days are rarely the same.

"I oversee a department of four," he told Windy City Times. "Hiring, training, following up on engagements at the hotel, sales, driving revenue and servicing clients—making their dreams come true. We have a lot of the weddings at the hotel as well as corporate events, galas and birthday parties; I oversee the full gamut of events that happens here."

Schmidt is a Chicagoan by way of Florida, having gone to school at St. Petersburg's Eckerd College, where he was a theater-management major. As for what brought him to the Windy City, he said ( with a laugh ), "The first quarter of the year, I'm always wondering that myself—but Chicago is such an incredible city. I visited Chicago my freshman year of college, and fell in love with it—although I visited it in the summer, so that could be why.

"When I graduated, I could've moved to Tampa, but I wanted a [big]-city life. I had [that] degree, so I thought Chicago offered incredible opportunities, although New York City does, as well—but it's so expensive—and L.A. I hadn't really visited. I visited Chicago and stopped by Apartment People; by the end of the day, I had a lease and I had to find a job."

Schmidt's employment journey involved him working at the city's historic Drake Hotel before he moved on to the Intercontinental, where he's been since 2005.

He said that he best aspect of his job is "being able to sell and service. I specialize in the wedding market, so working with couples up until that wedding day—and then getting that thank-you note—that's simply the best. We also have a great food-and-beverage team here and they average 99.6 percent [on the clients' surveys], which is incredible." As for the worst part of the job, Schmidt said, "You know, there are hills and valleys when it comes to sales. You just have to stay positive and keep the team positive as well."

However, Schmidt has certainly not left his theater roots behind, as he serves on the board of directors for About Face Theatre. "Theater brought me to Chicago and I'd done a few things with [the company]. I thought, 'I'm grateful to be where I am, but I want to give back to people who were in my shoes back in the day.'"

Another of Schmidt's passions is traveling. "I love traveling," he said. "We're headed off to Brazil and Buenos Aires in a couple weeks. I have stamps from 19 countries on my passport, and I'm on my second passport."

THE STATS

-Age: 36

-Neighborhood: Lake View

-Relationship status: Partnered for seven years

-Orientation: Gay

-Job title: Director of catering, Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile

-Hometown: New Smyrna Beach, Florida

-Pets: Two Italian greyhounds, Tito and Jake

-Favorite pizza topping: "I'm a carnivore, so sausage and pepperoni."

-A movie that made you cry: My Best Friend's Wedding

-Personal mantra: "Persevere, smile and get through the day."


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