Alpana Singh: ‘It’s Absolutely Wonderful’ to Return to ‘Check, Please!’

Get ready to raise your glasses, “Check, Please!” fans: the season premiere of your favorite restaurant review show airs Friday.

And this time, the show returns with a familiar face (and a familiar laugh). Alpana Singh is back as host following a five-year hiatus.

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Watch Singh’s 2003 debut as host of “Check, Please!”

Below, a Q&A with Singh.

What have you been up to in the last five years?

The last five years have been quite busy for me. I opened three restaurants (The Boarding House in River North, Seven Lions on Michigan Avenue and Terra and Vine in Evanston). I sold my interests in The Boarding House and Seven Lions last August but have retained Terra and Vine where I can be found most days of the week. I also ran a marathon, was a judge for a Food Network show and have been actively involved in the community as a board member for Choose Chicago and the Illinois Restaurant Association.

Is there anything new viewers can look for in the coming season?

In addition to an exciting new season featuring three everyday Chicagoans recommending and reviewing three of their favorite restaurants, I will also be writing a story for the WTTW website each week. We’re also launching a new “inside the episode” video extra series. You’ll find these on WTTW’s Facebook page an on each week. “Check, Please!” creator David Manilow and I will be chatting about that week’s episode, behind-the-scenes stories, our favorite foods and more!

What’s been the reaction to your return?

It’s been tremendous! My return to the show was announced earlier this summer and I’ve had nothing but well wishes from fans since then. Not a day goes by where someone doesn’t reach out and say how thrilled they are that I am returning. It’s heartwarming for me to know that I was missed and I certainly missed being on the show as well. It definitely feels good to be back!

Has your experience doing the show this time around changed since wrapping the 2012 season?

I’m a much different person today than I was five years ago. Certainly restaurant ownership has given me a new perspective of what it takes to run a business but I’ve also traveled more, eaten more and have experienced more since 2012. The show is still as fun as ever to do but I would say I’m a bit more aware this time around which leads to more insightful questions for the guests and hopefully a more informative show for the viewer.

Has becoming a restaurateur affected your perspective/experience on the show?

For sure! I’m better at understanding certain dynamics or situations that may arise with the guests but as always my job as host of “Check, Please!” is to solicit unbiased opinions, and to make sure that audiences are getting a true picture of an eatery’s strengths and weaknesses. For that, I need to make sure my restaurateur side stays very much on the other side of the studio door. But if there is an opportunity to highlight a tip or suggestion that would enhance someone’s restaurant-going experience then I will take the opportunity to do so. For example, BYOB suggestions, dealing with allergies or special dietary requests or explaining why restaurants may implement certain practices.

Video: This Oct. 17, 2003 episode of “Check, Please!” features the debut of Alpana Singh as host.

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