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'Check, Please!' Host Applications Keep Pouring in as Deadline Looms

By Janet Rausa Fuller | February 28, 2013 1:25pm | Updated on February 28, 2013 2:18pm
 The search to replace "Check, Please!" host Alpana Singh (c.) has drawn more than 500 applicants.
The search to replace "Check, Please!" host Alpana Singh (c.) has drawn more than 500 applicants.
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Facebook/Check, Please!

CHICAGO — The videos just keep on coming.

Friday is the last day to apply for the job of "Check, Please!" host. As of Thursday morning, executive producer David Manilow had received 528 video submissions — three of which came while he was on the phone with DNAinfo.com Chicago.

The popular WTTW-Channel 11 show announced in late January it was parting ways with its host of 10 years, Alpana Singh, so she could fully focus on her new River North restaurant, the Boarding House. The search to replace her quickly commenced.

Candidates must fill out an application on the "Check, Please!" website and submit a two-minute video that "shows what makes you special," the website said.

Weeding out the special from the not-so-much happens fairly quickly.

"Sometimes, they're fabulous, and I laugh out loud, and sometimes I can tell in 10 seconds," Manilow said. "If something really sparks, I watch them again."

From those videos, Manilow has narrowed the field to candidates who sit down with him for quick, face-to-face meetings. There has been one round of meet-and-greets; Manilow will have another on March 11.

From there, Manilow will choose a final group, likely numbering 15, who will do more formal auditions in a mock "Check, Please!" setup.

He plans to post the videos of those 15 candidates online, and invite people to vote on their favorite — though Manilow, not the public, will have the final say.

"I want to make clear that voting, although it will have an impact, will not decide completely who the winner is," he said.

People of all stripes have so far applied — chefs, architects, cabdrivers, bartenders. And plenty have urged their friends and family to put out a good word, or three, on their behalf on the "Check, Please!" Facebook and Twitter feeds.

But creativity and overall culinary expertise, more than a slick video and your 500 Facebook friends vouching for you, might get you further in the audition process, Manilow said.

"If somebody has the greatest video in the world, it doesn't mean they'll make the next cut, and if someone has a video on their phone, that doesn't necessarily exclude them," he said.

He plans to announce the new host on May 1.