Photo: Briana McDonell
Anita Lo may be best known for her wildly successful downtown Manhattan restaurant Annisa and recent stint on Top Chef Masters, but we were more impressed by the fact that she’s an avid fly fisher.We talked to Lo about angling, her favourite sushi spots, and her celebrity chef status the day after she prepared a five-course tasting menu for guests at an HSBC Bank-sponsored dinner, part of an Asian culinary festival taking place in New York this week.
Her condensed answers, plus a look at the artful dinner she presented, follow.
On the Asian food scene in New York:
It’s interesting that a lot of Asian Americans are starting their own restaurants. Things have changed: you now get Asian-American points of view, which are clearly Western points of view.
On “ethnic” food:
I always have a hard time with the term “ethnic food.” I think it’s marginalizing, and a very Eurocentric view of things.
It’s tough to keep up with the dining scene, even if you’re a restaurateur:
There are so many places I like, and I really make it a point to try all the new places. I keep a list in my phone of all the places I want to try and all the places that are opening.
Her favourite neighbourhood dining spot:
There are very few restaurants I go to time and time again, but I do go to L’Artusi, which is an Italian restaurant around the corner from my house [in the West Village], which I just think is really solid and really delicious.
And for sushi:
I go to Jewel Bako [in the East Village] for sushi time and time again.
When she’s not in the kitchen:
I’m a big fisherman — I’m an angler and I love to catch fish. I have a house in East Moriches [on Long Island] and I fish in Moriches bay. And in the fall, at least once, I like to try to get out to Montauk.
Her wildest fishing experience:
We went out last fall [in Montauk], and there were just acres of boiling fish on the water. It was really incredible. You couldn’t throw something without pulling bluefish. By the end we had pretty much caught our limit on bluefish.
We eventually caught two striped bass — I caught one on a fly, which I thought was really fun, thought I can’t take full credit for it. I’m just learning to fly fish and I didn’t cast the line, although I pulled it in. The other, I caught on a spring reel.
The downside to her status as a celebrity chef:
I’m grateful to have fans. I guess when you’re in the spotlight, you open yourself to criticism, but as a chef, you really expect to do that anyway.
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