meet the team: executive chef Shawn Ernst

“Having a party of happy guests is one of the best feelings.”

Chef Shawn prepping at Bloomies Old Orchard for their annual  Registry promotion

Chef Shawn prepping at Bloomies Old Orchard for their annual Registry promotion

Chef Shawn loves to create for others, and he views cooking as one of the ultimate forms of art because it indulges all the senses. Shawn picks “stars” of his dishes, paying close attention to color, contrast, flavor, balance, and texture. He is especially inspired by fresh ingredients, and presentation is just as important to him as taste.

Before graduating from the Illinois Institute of Art Chicago, Chef Shawn Ernst interned at Deleece, a northside restaurant known for its eclectic menu and casual atmosphere. There he worked under Chef Josh Hansen, and he took the offered job on the line after the internship ended. Over the years he worked his way up to sous chef, and eventually, head chef.

Shawn  packed up his things after four years with Deleece  and flew down to the US Virgin Islands. There he  became Chef de Cuisine at Kendrick’s, one of St. Croix’s finest restaurants. While working under world-renowned Chef Dave Kendrick, Shawn had the opportunity to cook for a diverse group of locals and visitors, including president Jimmy Carter and the Diageo Corporation.

He entered the “Cuisine on the Green” culinary competition with sous chef Daniel MacFarlane and took first place. After three years with Kendrick’s, Shawn decided to leave the US Virgin Islands and return home to share some new flavors with Chicagoland.

After starting his own company--Amberjack Cuisine--Shawn met Lynda Ross of Rent-a-Chef Catering while working as  consultants and producers for a local start up, Cook It For Us in 2012.  Shawn continued working for Rent A Chef, using his artistic flair to help develop the presentation ideas behind the Caterist.

*** update ***

In the winter of 2014 Chef Shawn decided to leave the Caterist family.  February 13 2015 was his last day with us.  With his soon to be bride he felt obligated to concentrate on the future needs of his immediate family.  Taking a place beside his brothers to manage the family business and spend his time  with those closest to him.  We wish Shawn the best.  He will always have a place in our family.