Born and raised in Monterey, California, Alpana Singh’s strong work ethic and ease with people of all ages stemmed from a youth spent working in her family’s ethnic grocery store. Later, while waiting tables in college, Singh fell in love with wine and discovered that it united her varied interests in traveling, history and food.
At 19, she pursued a path in the business with a job as a wine sales clerk at Nielsen Bros. Market in Carmel, California. By 23, she had landed the sommelier position at the world-renowned Everest Restaurant in Chicago. Just three years later at the age of 26, Singh went on to become the youngest woman ever to pass the final level of the Master Sommelier exam which has a pass rate of 3%. There are 149 professionals who have earned the title of Master Sommelier as part of the Americas chapter since the organization’s inception. Of those, 125 are men and 24 are women.
This distinguished accomplishment, along with her effervescence, experience and energy, was magnetic, and it wasn’t long before Singh found herself in the local spotlight. For ten seasons, she served as the host of the Emmy Award-winning restaurant review television show, Check, Please!, on Chicago’s PBS station, and returned in 2018 after a five-year absence.
In December 2012, Singh opened The Boarding House, a wine-driven concept in the River North neighborhood. In February of 2015, Singh opened her second restaurant, Seven Lions, on Chicago’s iconic Michigan Avenue. In 2016, Alpana announced her third restaurant venture, Terra & Vine, in Evanston, Illinois.
Singh was proud to be included as a Crain’s 40 Under 40 honoree in Chicago in 2001 at the age of 24 and has since been a prominent member of the community. Singh is a member of the Choose Chicago Board of Directors and on the Advisory Council for the Illinois Restaurant Association. She played a significant role in bringing the James Beard Foundation Awards to the city of Chicago in 2015 and is an avid supporter of Deborah’s Place, an organization that assists and empowers women facing homelessness.