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Alpana Singh Signs Off as 'Check, Please!' Host

By Janet Rausa Fuller | January 23, 2013 11:10am | Updated on January 23, 2013 2:13pm

CHICAGO — "Check, Please!" is hiring.

The popular show on WTTW-Ch. 11 has said goodbye to its host for the past decade, master sommelier Alpana Singh, who has her plate full as owner of the month-old restaurant, The Boarding House, 720 N. Wells St.

"We talked about [her leaving] over time," said David Manilow, the show's creator and executive producer. "We've had a great relationship and a wonderful 10 years, and she's excited about her new venture."

The show stars Chicagoans (and the occasional celebrity), who recommend their favorite restaurants and review each other's picks.

In a blog post Wednesday morning, Singh wrote about her "bittersweet" decision to step down.

 Master sommelier Alpana Singh (c.) is leaving the WTTW show "Check, Please!" after 10 years as host.
Master sommelier Alpana Singh (c.) is leaving the WTTW show "Check, Please!" after 10 years as host.
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Facebook/Check, Please!

"If I've learned anything from the many restaurants featured on 'Check, Please!' over the last 10 seasons I've been host of the show, it's that the details matter," she wrote. "In order for me to be able to provide the best possible experience, to offer this city a restaurant like no other, I have to dedicate myself fully and completely to The Boarding House, its terrific staff, and its wonderful and lively guests."

"Check, Please!" started in 2001 with host Amanda Puck, now executive vice president at public relations firm XA The Experiential Agency.

Singh took over in the third season, juggling hosting duties with her main gig as sommelier at Everest and later wine director of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises.

"It's going to be hard to find somebody that has three syllables that start and end with 'A,' " joked Manilow.

But seriously. If you want a shot at hosting, "the prerequisite, first and foremost, is knowledge," Manilow said.

The ideal host is "somebody — it doesn't necessarily matter if they're a sommelier, chef, server, food blogger, writer — somebody who has expertise in the restaurant, food and wine business and who's clearly appealing, relatable, can keep a conversation going, is inclusive, all those things," he said.

He will announce shortly, in the next week or so, the search and audition process on the "Check, Please!" website and through social media.

Shooting for the current season is complete. The new season begins in October, and production will begin in June, Manilow said.