Anita Lo - December 2018

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December 2018 Edition

Anita Lo
Michelin star Chef, 3-Stars New York Times, Iron Chef Winner, Top Chef Master, Author

December 2018 Edition

You are one of the most respected chefs in the country. What do you like most about being a chef?
Eating!  But so much: working with my hands.  Not having to dress up.  Not having to get up early.  Making people happy.  Creating a restaurant family.  Immediate satisfaction.  Shopping for ingredients.  Travel.  I can go on...


Your restaurant Annisa held a Michelin star for nine consecutive years, how does one achieve this? Do you miss owning a restaurant?
You work hard and never settle for “good enough”.  I don’t miss owning a restaurant.  But I miss aspects of it, and of course the people.  


You competed on Iron Chef America and Top Chef Masters. What was your favorite and least favorite thing about competing on these shows?
My favorite thing was being around great chefs and hearing their stories.  And seeing the sets and how TV works.  My least favorite was waiting around for things to happen.


If you could share one surprising thing about yourself, what would it be?
I can ride a 5 ft unicycle.


What is the newest culinary trend you see emerging that you’re using yourself?
I’m pretty much out of that scene now that annisa has closed.  


I read an excerpt of your new book Solo: Easy Sophisticated Recipes For a Party of One that said “I’ve been dumped almost as many times as I’ve been in relationships…that’s a lot of solo meals.”  When did you realize that you wanted to write a book on cooking for one? Was writing this book therapy on getting over a breakup?
Not at all.  It came about from a conversation I had with my friend David Ransome.  We somehow got into an ideation session of cookbook names with my last name in it  and “ALOne” and “SoLO” came up.  I thought it would be fun and easy to write and could be funny.


In 2015, you became the first female guest chef to cook for a State Dinner at the White House, under the Obama administration. How exciting! Were you nervous?  What is one moment you can share about your experience?
Everyone at the White House was so warm and hospitable so my fear was kept in check. But yes it was perhaps the biggest honor of my career so yes, I was nervous. We did something like 250 covers, 4 courses in 35 minutes.The food wasn’t what I wanted it to be, but this event clearly wasn’t about me and in the end they seemed happy.


You are known as a role model for women in your male-dominated field. What advice would you give to young women aspiring to be chefs or who are just starting out in the restaurant industry?
Never give up.  Find your support group and concentrate on the food.


What is the one food that you couldn’t live without? 
All of it.


Who was your mentor or role model as you were becoming a chef?
The waltucks helped me a lot over the years.  Annisa was loosely based on Chanterelle.


What can attendees expect from your demonstration at the 2019 International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of NY?  
I’ll be demonstrating a dish from “Solo” but there will be tastes!


What can your fans expect from you next?
I am working with the Tour De Forks, a culinary travel group.  I help host small travel groups of no more than 12 people.  I have sold out trip to Portugal in the fall of 2019 but we have a trip to Sicily in the spring of 2019 (Mt Etna!  And a yacht!) that we are working on, and a trip to the Italian Dolomites in 2020.  I also will hopefully write more cookbooks and I am hoping to get a long term consultancy/licensing deal to open a restaurant somewhere.