The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 37 of 119

38 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014/2015 { face to face } I FIRST CROSSED PATHS WITH ALPANA SINGH after arriving in Chicago in 2001 to work at the famed Charlie Trotter's restaurant. At the time she was Sommelier at the world-renowned Everest restaurant, working with Chef J. Joho. Alpana passed her Master Sommelier exam in 2003, becoming the youngest woman ever to achieve the coveted title and the second person in Chicago. From there, her career has skyrocketed—from a corporate director of wine and spirits, to Chicago television personality, book author and most recently restaurateur. I stopped by her restaurant, The Boarding House, to get her thoughts on getting into the business and current wine trends. Serafin Alvarado: What inspired you to become a Master Sommelier? Alpana Singh: When I was 18 years old, I started working as a server in Monterey, California. It was then that I heard about the Master Sommelier pro - gram. What started as an innocent interest in the program became a full-blown one. After taking the Introductory Course, I passed the Advanced Level examina- tion at the age of 21. Two years later, I moved to Chicago to work at Everest—and at 24 I sat for the Master Sommelier exam for the first time. At 26 I was able to obtain my Master Sommelier credential. Has there been a mentor that has played a role in your career? There have been many great Master Sommelier mentors that helped along the way: William Sherer, Larry Stone, Joe Spellman, Jay James, Madeline Triffon, Tim Gaiser and, of course, Fred Dame. Are you currently mentoring any Master Sommelier candidates? Yes, I am currently mentoring four candidates who will sit for the Advanced Level exam next year: Patrick Hyamer, Amy Lutchen, Kelly Capri Peterson Bates and Miranda Elliot. I have also been working with Blake Leja, who is a first-year Master Sommelier candidate. How would you describe the wine scene in Chicago? I consider the wine scene in Chicago lacking in comparison to the cocktail and beer scene. This is certainly not due to a lack of talent; it has more to do with a lack of understanding by owners and operators on the importance of wine in their restaurants. We see too many similar wines-by-the-glass programs. Chicago is not at the same level as cities like San Francisco or New York in that regard. It is not Q: Q: Q: Q: When Masters Meet MASTER SOMMELIER SERAFIN ALVARADO, DIRECTOR OF WINE EDUCATION FOR SOUTHERN WINE & SPIRITS OF ILLINOIS, INTERVIEWS FELLOW MASTER SOMMELIER AND CHICAGO RESTAURATEUR ALPANA SINGH photo by Jacob Hand

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The SOMM Journal - December 2014/January 2015