Anita Lo - Hawaii Food & Wine Festival

TENTH ANNUAL - SAVE THE DATE – OCTOBER 2-25, 2020

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Anita Lo

New York, NY

Anita Lo, a first generation Chinese-American, grew up in Birmingham, Michigan, and fostered an interest in food at a young age. Lo accepted her first kitchen job as garde-manger at Bouley, and after a year, she enrolled in Ecole Ritz-Escoffier, a revered culinary institution in Paris.

Lo received her degree, graduating first in her class with honors, while interning under Guy Savoy and Michel Rostang. In New York, Lo worked her way through all the stations at David Waltuck’s Chanterelle. She developed her culinary style during her time at Mirezi, where she earned a two-star review from Ruth Reichl at The New York Times.

In 2000, Lo opened Annisa (which means ”women” in Arabic), an intimate, upscale restaurant in Greenwich Village serving Contemporary American cuisine. It was an instant hit, earning a two-star review from The New York Times.

In April 2010, after a complete renovation of the original Barrow Street location that had been destroyed in a fire, Lo reopened Annisa.
In February 2014, critic Pete Wells re-reviewed Annisa in The New York Times, bestowing the restaurant with a prestigious three stars. In the review, he calls her food “remarkable” and “impressive,” and the restaurant “graceful and unfussy.”

In 2015, Anita Lo was the first female guest chef to cook for a State Dinner at the White House, under the Obama administration. She prepared a 4-course meal for the visiting Chinese president, Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan.

In May 2017, after 17 years of business, and holding a Michelin star for nine consecutive years, Lo closed Annisa to pursue her next great adventure.



 

WHY DID YOU BECOME A CHEF?
I became a chef because I love to eat, to shop for food, and of course, cook.  I’ve always liked working with my hands, and I never would have fit into corporate America.

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COOKING IN THREE WORDS?
Adventurous, contemporary, American.

WHAT’S THE BEST HONOR YOU’VE RECEIVED AS A CHEF?
It’s a toss up between cooking for a state dinner for the Obamas and having my entire staff, minus one, return to help me reopen Annisa after a fire had closed it for nine months.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO MEAL AFTER A BUSY DAY?
When I was still in the trenches, I used to eat a lot of soup and salads after service.  But now that I’m more free, it really depends on the day. I am a very enthusiastic, multicultural omnivore.

HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR TIME WHEN YOU’RE NOT IN THE KITCHEN?
I love anything on the water including fishing, clamming, etc.  I also love to read fiction and travel as much as possible.

WHAT THE ONE LOCAL INGREDIENT YOU’RE EXCITED TO COOK WITH DURING HFWF19?
I love all the local fish and shellfish, and the hearts of palm from Hawai’i can’t be beat.  I used to get them for Annisa after I first saw them at your festival. I’d be interested in working with limpets as I’m not sure I’ve ever had them. 

WHAT KEEPS YOU RETURNING BACK TO THE ISLANDS?
So many things! The camaraderie, the water, the ingredients and the local food culture.

IF YOU WERE NOT A CHEF, WHAT WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
I’d be a travel writer.