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Alpana  Singh

Alpana Singh

Master Sommelier, TV Personality, Entrepreneur & Restaurateur

Alpana Singh

Master Sommelier, TV Personality, Entrepreneur & Restaurateur


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 addition, in 2014 she appeared as a featured judge on Food Network's Food Truck Face Off.

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.

Speaker Videos

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Speech Topics

Secrets of a Master Sommelier

Go behind the scenes and learn how to taste wines “blind” like a Master Sommelier. With this entertaining crash course, you’ll learn quick and easy tips to improve your everyday wine enjoyment by learning how to taste and describe wines like pro, purchase wines for your cellar and learn how to pair wines for any feast or occasion.

Crushing the Glass Ceiling

Alpana shares her motivating and inspiring story of going from the daughter of Fijian immigrants to becoming an successful entrepreneur and the youngest woman to pass the Master Sommelier exam and being just one of 25 women to ever do so. She shares her wit and wisdom of how she overcame adversities and navigated a male dominated profession and also went on to have a successful television career and own three restaurants. She inspires women to show up in the ring and the importance of knowing that we are worthy and that we are enough.

The American Dream

Alpana shares her story of how she overcame her modest and humble beginnings as the daughter of Fijian immigrant parents to becoming a successful restaurateur, Master Sommelier and Television personality. The valuable lessons she learned from the immigrant experience that helped her develop the grit, determination, and tenacity to achieve her high level of success.  She shares stories of her childhood, navigating the expectations of her parents to become a doctor with wanting to pursue her passion for wine and why diversity and her role on television today is so important.

Every Bottle Tells a Story

Wine tells the story of persons, places and things ever so easily. Alpana will take you on a journey to connect whatever message you are looking to convey – whether it’s wines made by women, selections that celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship or bottles that highlight global diversity, Alpana will customize a tasting or dinner to really personalize and bring home the theme of your event.

Interactive Team Building Exercises

Group tastings are a fun and dynamic team building exercise. Alpana will start the group off with a brief tasting lesson then participants will be divided into groups and then they will put their new skills to the test by tasting wines blind. The team who correctly names the grape and provenance of the most number of wines wins.