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, Singh went on to become the youngest female to pass the final level of the Master Sommelier exam. There are now 140 professionals who have earned the title Master Sommelier in North America. Of those, 119 are men and 21 are women. There are 219 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since
the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam.
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. Her approachable on-air personality spurred national appearances on The Today Show, Food Network's Iron Chef America and attention in publications including Newsweek, Food & Wine, Wine Spectator, Bon Appetit, The New York Times and more.
During this period of time was a James Beard Foundation Award nominee, and moved into a corporate position as the director of wine and spirits for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. After more than a decade with the company, Singh left to open Chicago’s first Master Sommelier-owned restaurant.
In December 2012, Singh opened The Boarding House, a wine-driven concept in the River North neighborhood. The four-story restaurant received national attention from Forbes Travel Guide (Top 40 Tastemakers), Food & Wine (Sommeliers of the Year), Market Watch, Sommelier Journal, Restaurant Hospitality, Midwest Living and more. Additional accolades include "100 Best Wine Restaurants" (Wine Enthusiast), "Pastry Chefs to Watch" (Time Out Chicago), "2013 Best New Restaurants" (Chicago Magazine), and nominations for best restaurant design from the Eater Awards and Jean Banchet Awards. Singh closed out the restaurant’s first successful year with an all-female culinary and beverage team, and the honor of Sommelier of the Year 2013 Wine Star award from Wine Enthusiast magazine.
In October 2014, the restaurateur will star as a judge on the upcoming Food Network show “Food Truck Face Off”. The television show will premiere just prior to Singh running her first marathon and opening her second restaurant, Seven Lions, an American concept, located on Chicago’s iconic Michigan Avenue.
Singh is member of the Choose Chicago Board of Directors and played a significant role in bringing the James Beard Foundation Awards to the city of Chicago in 2015. In her spare time, she enjoys the single life (she divorced author Charles Blackstone in 2014), running, traveling and photography.