Ok, guys. Here is the first of hopefully many post-game wrap-ups with our Chef Anita Lo. To see the official interview click here.
First off, congratulations. I thought you rocked! It was so fun to see you up there. Everyone at Rickshaw is super proud! How was it to watch the episode?
Anita Lo (AL): A little painful but bearable.
One Handed Egg
How do you cut the egg shell?
Al: I used an egg cutter and I knew I was going to have to get help.
All of the other chef’s seemed great. How did you decide who was going to help you get those eggs opened?
AL: I went to whomever was available. Besh (John Besh) helped me the most
Can you tell me the egg dish that you made again?
AL: Soft Scrambled Egg with Shiitake, Oyster Sauce and Truffle Oil
Any moments of clarity where you thought, “this isn’t going to work” or “this is going to be awesome?”
AL: There was a moment that they showed where the egg was cracking and I thought oh crap this isn’t going to work……
Creating Magic Dinner for Doogie Howser, MD. Could it get anymore LA?
AL: No, the whole thing was pretty magical and sometimes surreal.
How did it feel when you were hanging at Whole Foods and the boys said that you were the one to beat?
AL: That was uncomfortable…
What did you think of Max Maven:
AL: I thought he was fabulous. So fun. His outfit was cool!
You drew “Illusion.” What were your immediate thoughts?
AL: I thought, I need to make something that didn’t look like what it was. I wanted to do something cold because it was easier, and I initially was thinking a tidal pool, where the goldfish were made out of meat and then dismissed that as impossible
We are all glad you didn’t do the meat goldfish.
AL: Then I thought of making meat look like scallop. I wanted to engage all the senses and create an experience akin to being by the ocean so I wanted things like sand crackling at the edge of a tide. I was excited by the rice krispie possibility of creating sound. At the end it didn’t really work out that way and have the sound I had imagined.
Were you happy with the end dish though?
AL: When I was plating near the end it was not working at all There was cereal everywhere and it was so messy and so upsetting.
But that turned out to be not a big deal?
AL: The overall effect worked and the element that I was the most stressed about (the sand and sound element) ended up passing muster
You seemed to take a very intellectual approach as one of the judges said to that dish. Is this a typical approach for you to creating a new dish?
AL: Sometimes it is about flavor and that is the guide and sometimes it is about doing something interesting and and something that makes sense together and has a story behind it like the seascape. Personally, I really particularly enjoy the approach and path I took for that challenge.
Have there been times when some element of a dish you were not satisfied with turned out a moot point with your guests?
AL: Oh, yeah that happens all the time but the beauty of restaurant is that you can correct those things with each day with each customer’s experience. On Top Chef you get one chance!
What was your favorite part about the Magic Castle:
AL: It was so cool, it was such a spectacle, everywhere you looked it was kitschy interesting….
Anything you saw there made you wish you had it at your house?
AL: ABSULOUTELY NOT!
When you saw each chef’s plating at the Magic Castle (I know you didn’t taste) which did you think was the one to beat?
AL: I thought they were all good. John Besh was closest in style to mine so maybe I thought that was the one to beat
Were you surprised by any of the judges comments?
AL: I was surprised by James Oseland from Saveur’s comment that the dish was bit under-seasoned.
I am surprised too, because I know how much we both love salt. Congratulations and I cant wait to see next week!
Check out the Charity that Anita chose to compete for here.