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Posted: Thursday, 14 June 2018 13:23

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Indian American Master Sommelier Alpana Singh back on Popular TV Show

June 14: Alpana Singh, who is the first Indian American Master Sommelier (MS) based in Chicago and the youngest woman to have received the coveted title, has three successful wine-centric restaurants in and around Chicago and became well-known first due to a TV Show in Chicago, has returned for at least 2 years to the Emmy Award-winning weekly restaurant review series Show ‘Check Please’ which she hosted from 2003-2013

PBS Chicago’s “Check, Please!” which she hosted for ten seasons in 2002-13, is returning to the Emmy award-winning weekly restaurant review series. Crain’s Chicago Business reports that Singh has signed a two-year contract to return. Viewers get to explore Chicago and its restaurants and neighbourhood in this WTTW restaurant review show where three regular people from diverse backgrounds dine at each other’s favourite restaurants and offer their critiques around a dining table.

Alpana reportedly told Crain’s Chicago Business that she wants to create a voice for restaurant owners who seemed swallowed in a vortex of online criticism whether it’s from Yelp, Facebook, or Instagram.(Indian restaurants would be happy that someone is espousing their cause- even if thousands of miles away but perhaps a Show like this could be a blessing for them in India).

First-off we need to dispel the common impression that Alpana Singh MS (41), the first Indian American Master Sommelier from India and the youngest woman Master Sommelier from the US, is a Punjabi born in India but raised in the US. She is a second generation Indian-American from teetotaler Fijian parents who are of Indian origin and moved to California where she was born in Monterey in November 1976 and raised. Her father ran a grocery store where she worked in the initial years.

She worked as a waitress at Bakers Square and even tried to join the US Air Force because of love for travel, but did not clear the medicals. She applied for a job at a fine dining restaurant but had not much background on wines; so she self-taught wines to herself and again applied for the same job after 2 days. She got it this time but was encouraged to continue her studies. She became Master Sommelier in 2003 at the age of 27. She was later selected as the Best Sommelier in America by Wine and Spirits magazine published from New York and San Francisco.

She opened The Boarding House, a wine specific restaurant in Chicago where she lives. It has been included by Wine Enthusiast in their 100 Best Wine Restaurants List. She was selected also as the Sommelier of the Year 2013 by the same magazine. She also owns Seven Lions Restaurant. In 2016, this Master Sommelier announced her third restaurant, Terra & Vine – an Italian-Mediterranean cuisine restaurant, in Evanston, Illinois. 

There are two streams for becoming a Master Sommelier- USA and UK. There are 158 professionals including 25 women, who have earned the title of Master Sommelier as part of the Americas chapter since the organization’s inception in 1969 and formation of the Court of Master Sommeliers in 1977. When she became an MS there were 106 of them in all in the US. India got affiliated to the UK chapter in March this year through Berkmann Cellars India. There are 249 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since inception. According to a poll by the Guild of Sommeliers Salary Survey of 2014, the average salary for a Master Sommelier in the US is $150,000 compared to the $78,000 for an Advanced Sommelier.

Viraj Sawant is apparently the only Indian Advanced Sommelier, living in India and working as the Brand Ambassador with the Mumbai-based importer.

For a few of the earlier related Articles, please visit:

Easier to be a ‘Somm’ than a Master Sommelier

Blog: Singh- The Tee-Total True Singh

Subhash Arora

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