‘Chat, Please!’ joins WTTW online menu

David Manilow and Rich Melman

David Manilow and Rich Melman

The impresario of “Check, Please!” is stepping out from behind the curtain.

David Manilow, creator and executive producer of the popular restaurant-review show on WTTW-Channel 11, will host a new online video series featuring conversations with “diverse, unique and notable personalities” on Chicago’s restaurant scene.

Titled “Chat, Please!” the series will debut Friday and stream on the website of the Window to World Communications public television station at wttw.com/chatplease. After release of the first six episodes, Manilow plans to upload one new one weekly. Each segment runs about four minutes long.

Manilow’s initial guest lineup includes Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises founder and chairman Rich Melman, Hot Doug’s creator Doug Sohn, restaurant designer Karen Herold, Chicago Tribune dining writer Kevin Pang, acclaimed chef Paul Kahan, restaurateur Alpana Singh (a former host of “Check, Please!”) and wine director Belinda Chang.

“I’m just kind of curious by nature and I like to learn things about accomplished people and the areas of their expertise,” Manilow said when asked why he decided to host the series.

“Alpana told me she was the top high school student in History in the state of California. She won an award. I never knew that — and I've known her forever! I talked Cubs with Doug Sohn, but also asked if he feels the need to do something highly conceptual in his next act. (He doesn’t.) I'm a father of four, so when Melman says that he wishes his kids ‘would experience failure,’ I can relate.  I didn't just want to talk to chefs about why they decided to become a chef,” he said.

The debut of the short-form digital series coincides with the 15th season premiere of “Check, Please!” Airing at 8 p.m. Fridays, the show currently is hosted by Catherine De Orio, who moderates a rotating panel of regular people reviewing favorites restaurants.