Yesterday we spoke with Annisa chef Anita Lo about Chinese New Year and all the foods one should eat to ensure prosperity. Today she tells us about the books every foodie needs to read and what it was like getting feng shui’d.
When you started out in your career, did male chefs you worked with ever give you shit for being a woman?
Of course. Most of it was some form of pointing out that I was different or not equal, be it treating me “like a lady” by not letting me lift anything, or clean, or by rude banter and comments. But this wasn’t always the case.
Now you run Annisa, which reopened earlier this year after a fire. Is the space different?
It could have just been advertising but people say that it feels right in here. I got feng shui’d, too. I am wearing a rock that’s supposed to protect me. And the restaurant is different. I don’t know what it was but they mixed something into the paint in the walls and we’ve got crystals in various places and metals. But the kitchen already had good feng shui.
What are the five essential cookbooks every aspiring chef (or foodie) should read?
The Culinary Institute of America’s New Professional Chef, Joy of Cooking, The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, and Baking With Julia.
What cookbook has been the most influential to your development as a chef?
That’s hard to say, but I love the Joy of Cooking. It has everything in it from how to cook an armadillo to how to make butterscotch.
And you have your own book coming out soon, right?
Yes. It’s coming out in fall 2011. The title is Cooking Without Borders, and it’s a recipe book with stories, and I guess it’s about multiculturalism. Some are more restaurant recipes, but others are for home cooks.
How do you go about writing a recipe?
There are many ways. Sometimes it starts with an ingredient that I haven’t seen before. Sometimes it’s a new technique. Sometimes it’s a combination that I’ve either seen in travels or heard about from other people, or read about in a book.
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 27, 2011