About the Cast
A native of Ottawa, Canada, Jess Palmer is recognized as a commentator for TSN and ESPN, and as the star of Season 5’s, the Bachelor. He was also the host of the Food Network Canada’s series, Recipe to Riches. Palmer has had a successful professional football career, spending four years with the New York Giants, playing briefly with the San Francisco 49ers, and then the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes. Palmer’s broadcast career began with Fox Sports Net as an analysis for NFL games and in 2005, he was a game and studio analyst for CSTV, providing color commentary for the college football games. In 2009, Palmer joined veteran analyst, John Saunders as an ABC Studio analyst for the College Football Countdown. He now appears on Thursday Night College Football for ESPN and will be appearing on the SEC Network, launching August 2014.
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 and ease with people of all ages. 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 would go on to pass the final level of the Master Sommelier exam. For the past nine seasons, Alpana 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. Nationally, Alpana has appeared on The Today Show and Food Network's Iron Chef America as well as numerous publications including Newsweek, Food & Wine, Wine Spectator, Bon Appetit and the New York Times.
Chef Gruel is well known in Southern California for his advocacy and evangelism of seasonal and sustainable cuisine. Chef Gruel is the co-owner of Slapfish Restaurant, an award winning food truck turned restaurant located in Huntington Beach California with multiple locations to open in both the US and The Middle East in 2014. Chef Gruel has appeared on numerous national television cooking shows and hosted his own radio program on cooking, Cooking with Gruel.
Whether she is catering for celebrities such as mega producer Timbaland, or to the streets of South Beach in her original food truck, Palate Party, Robyn Almodovar is taking the culinary world by storm. Coming from a half Puerto Rican, half Italian background, the Brooklyn native has always had a passion for culture and food. In 2005 she graduated from the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and has since mastered every position in the kitchen. Almodovar has demonstrated her talent in a number of accredited restaurant kitchens such as the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 (a Four Diamond Hotel), Danny Devito’s Devito’s South Beach, and the Royal Palm Hotel as an Executive Sous Chef. In 2010, Robyn tested her culinary skills on Season 10 of Hell’s Kitchen where she made it to the top 10. Currently she’s dominating the streets of South Beach in her fresh mobile food truck that utilizes locally sourced ingredients. Palate Party was the first female owned, non-dessert truck in South Florida and it’s the only truck with a custom stage built on top for live entertainment.
Stephen "Steak" Shapiro is one of the South's top radio and television personalities. In addition to hosting successful sports and food programs in Atlanta, he is also a frequent guest commentator on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, HLN, ESPN, and NBC Sports Network. As the founder of Atlanta Eats and Southern Eats, Shapiro has not only created two multimedia companies with a dedicated following, but also serves as the host and face of both shows.
Prior to his current endeavors, Shapiro created and hosted a food radio show called Steak Tips with a successful 5-year run. Steak was also founder and president of Big League Broadcasting which launched radio station 790 The Zone where Steak served as morning drive host for 17 years.
Steak Shapiro knows food, and it's his love of dining out and connection to the restaurant industry that have led him to cover the dining scene in the Southeast like no one else.
Zane Caplansky was born to own a deli. Formerly a business consultant, political assistant, dot com millionaire, apprentice chef, night janitor and lots in between. Zane started Caplansky's Deli in 2008 out of frustration with the lack of good smoked meat in Toronto.
Caplansky opened in the modest Monarch Tavern - credited as Toronto's first pop-up restaurant. Toronto eaters and media quickly took notice of his “Toronto Smoked Meat” with the Globe and Mail’s Joanne Kates naming it one of the Top 10 Best New Restaurants of 2008. In 2009 Caplansky’s Deli opened at 356 College St.
Zane Caplansky has come a long way since then. His busy College St. location boasts a proud sense of old school authenticity as well as a booming catering business. In 2011 Zane launched "Thunderin' Thelma", Toronto's first modern food truck.
Caplansky's Deli has received an unprecedented level of media attention. In 2013 Zane appeared on CBC's Dragons' Den, Food Network Canada's You Gotta Eat Here!, as a judge in 14 episodes of the same network's Donut Showdown and on Food Network USA's hit Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Previous television exposure includes two previous episodes of Dragons' Den, Food Network's Eat Street and Restaurant Takeover.