An Interview with Chef Anita Lo

An Interview with Chef Anita Lo

This week, Chefs Feed met up with renowned chef Lo at her restaurant, Annisa, in New York City's Greenwich Village.

June 18, 2014
CF: I'm best known for my _______ style of cooking but I can make one hell of a _______.
AL: Contemporary American; risotto

CF: How would your sous chef describe you in the kitchen?
AL: Exacting, demanding, and I hope they'd say fair.

CF: What are you most excited about right now?
AL: We have a new mussel dish on the menu for summer with chickpeas and Spanish flavors. It comes in three parts: raw with fried chickpeas, grilled with black chickpea and squid ink puree (and chorizo and smoked hot paprika), and fried with green chickpeas, aioli and jalapeño salsa verde. It's a different way of serving them other than the usual bucket of steamed ones.

CF: Which chef would you drop everything to stage with?
AL: I'd like to go to El Celler de Can Roca in Gerona, Spain. I have their cookbook so it's on my mind right now. It seems like they do really intelligent cuisine.

CF: Message to professional food critics.
AL: I think it's really unfair for them to come in during the first month of a restaurant's opening. I've even had people, somehow come in (I'm not sure how they snuck in), and review me on a dry run. I realize some places can't afford to keep sending a reviewer in, but I really don't think it's fair for anyone to come in that early.

CF: One piece of advice for aspiring young chefs.
AL: I think it's really important to be in a restaurant where you really love the food because it has to be about passion. There's really no other reason to be in this industry. And make sure to stay there for at least two years.

CF: Thick or thin patty?
AL: Thick.

CF: Is there anything you don't like? 
AL: I'm not a big fan of green peppers. Red, yellow, and orange I love, but it's the green ones I don't like. It's okay if they're in stuff and cooked to hell, but I can't stand them in stir-fried Chinese and things like that–gross. Or even worse, raw, it's disgusting. 

CF: What's for family meal tonight?
AL: We have cooks from all over the world here and each of them take a turn at preparing family meal, so it's really nice. I remember one day we did a "make your own maki roll" and it was great. We serve a lot of salmon here and it's tough to use the belly portion in our dishes, but it's also the best part to eat. So we used it along with some hamachi, which we also had on the menu, and it turned out to be a pretty epic family meal.