Born and raised in Monterey, California, it was only natural that Alpana Singh would develop an interest in wine. Her family owned an ethnic grocery store in Monterey where she worked at an early age; a life experience that she credits for her present day work ethic. While waiting tables in college, she discovered her love for wine and found that it combined her varied interests of traveling, history and food. At the age of 19, Alpana landed her first job in the wine business as a sales clerk at Nielsen Bros. Market in Carmel, California. In 2000, at the age of 23, she became the sommelier for the highly acclaimed Everest Restaurant in Chicago. Three years later, Alpana passed the final level of the Master Sommelier exam.
For the past nine seasons, Alpana has also served as the host of the Emmy Award-winning restaurant review television show, Check, Please!, which airs weekly in Chicago on the PBS station WTTW Channel 11. She appears frequently on the station’s nightly news program, Chicago Tonight, where she answers viewer questions regarding wine and spirits in her ongoing segment, Ask Alpana. Nationally, Alpana has appeared on The Today Show and Food Network’s Iron Chef America as well as in numerous publications including Newsweek, Food & Wine, Wine Spectator, Bon Appetit, and The New York Times.
Chef Bjorn is of Scandinavian descent but was born and raised in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. Upon completing his internship at Tre Kronor, he joined Chef Jason Vincent’s culinary team at Lula Café. After three years, Bjorn accepted the Sous Chef position at Bistro Campagne, where he worked for two years until he joined the newly opened Elysian Hotel in 2009, where he worked a variety of positions including butcher, Chef de Partie and Sous Chef at the hotel’s two main restaurants, Balsan and the two-starred Michelin RIA. Once again, Bjorn was ready to take on new challenges and joined the team at The Boarding House as Executive Sous Chef. He was also instrumental in developing the craft beer list for The Boarding House.
Julia Fitting began her baking career in 2006 in her native Colorado where she worked at Crested Butte Cookie Company, and later served as the Assistant Manager at the bakery of Crested Butte Mountain Resort. In 2010, Julia opened Object of My Confection, her own baking business in Crested Butte, before joining L’Art de la Pâtisserie Program at The French Pastry School in Chicago where she studied under acclaimed artisans. Julia honed her craft in Chicago in kitchens including The James Hotel, Alliance Bakery, Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafter, and L2O Restaurant. She most recently served as the Pastry Cook at the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower. Julia helms the bread and pastry program at The Boarding House.
Matthew Sheridan was born and raised in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and worked in fashion production, but his true calling was the restaurant business. He lived in New York for ten years, working at Le Pere Pinard, Balaboosta and Olea – restaurants specializing in Mediterranean fare and European wine programs. He then returned to Chicago and worked at Vermilion restaurant until meeting Matt Fisher at Eve. He began as a server and was quickly promoted to event planner, Maitre d’ and Manager. Matthew continually seeks new ways to exceed customer expectations by developing guest recognition techniques and ideas culled from his extensive travels, which include tours in Europe, Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, Israel, Jordan, India, Thailand, Cambodia, South Africa, and Hong Kong.
Dan brings over 15 years of epicurean expertise to the Boarding House, where he serves as a sommelier and manager.
Dan discovered his passion for food and wine while working at Wente Vineyards at age 14. Using his skills and knowledge of production from Wente, Dan helped transform an avocado farm into a small labor of love project called Milagro making wines, cider and olive oil.
After the devastating wild fires that took the farm in 2006, Dan became a Wine and Sales Consultant for the Lafayette Wine Company. Followed by his next role as Restaurant Manager and Wine Director at the 910 Restaurant in the Grand Colonial Hotel in La Jolla, California. After receiving his Business of Wine Certificate at San Diego State University, Dan teamed up with Addison Restaurant at The Grand Del Mar Resort working closely with prestigious Sommeliers from around the nation. In 2009, Dan moved to Chicago to join the Elysian team as Wine Director and Manager of RIA restaurant, where he fashioned an extensive and unique wine list that complemented the menus of both RIA, a two-star Michelin, and Balsan.
Now a Chicago resident, Dan spends much of his free time studying for both the Master Sommelier exam and exploring Chicago’s famed gastronomical sites.
April Popp earned her Bachelor of Business Studies and a Master of Education from Loyola University. After a chance meeting at Meritage Wine Bar, she became inspired and determined to learn more about food, wine and the restaurant business. April worked as a manager and server at Meritage for five years until joining Owner Matt Fisher at Tallulah, and subsequently, at Eve and Bistronomic. As a way to meld her interest and training in education, she was an instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts for seven years, teaching culinary students elements of front of the house operations with a focus on hospitality and the restaurant management side of the industry in both classroom and practical environments. April leads The Boarding House’s Special Events department, assisting guests with private parties, dinners and functions.