Posts Tagged ‘anita lo’

Anita Gets a Raw Deal on Top Chef!

August 13, 2009

Anita, you had a great run on the show let’s talk about this last episode!

Quickfire Challenge
Blind Tasting
You have a great palate and are really good at blind tasting….i remember from other contests you have done and I was freaking out when you were trying the hoisin! I was thinking, “what goes with our Peking Duck Dumpling!!!!?!?” It was so ironic that Hoisin was the one you didn’t get!

AL: Yeah, I thought it was a mixture of something else. It tasted like something sweet and had Lee & Perrins. The peanut butter texture threw me, it was separated and not totally creamy so I thought it was tahini and as soon as I said that I knew it was too late to change!

Buffet for Two-Hundred Hollywood Insiders

Your menu in brief was:
Raw Bar with many condiments
Chicken Skewers
Rickshaw Edamame Dumplings with lemon sansho dipping sauce
Stuffed Spare Ribs with Thai Basil and Kohlrabi Slaw
Cellophane Noodle Salad
Adult Green Tea Bubble Tea
Coconut Sticky Rice

You had to pick your staff quickly and in a very unorthodox manner. You picked Jamie who used to work with at Annisa.

AL: I was excited because I knew her and was hopeful she knew my food and working style.

Jamie recommended who else you should pick.

AL: She recommended Dale and Richard. Looking back Dale had some really great kitchen skills. Although he had a temper which I missed during filming and only saw tonight re: the altercation with Chiarello.

Choosing a great team is definitely important for any project, how did that relate to your success at this Challenge?

AL: You need to be able to pick a team and lead a team. This is just one component of being a successful leader. But it was not a realistic trial of your ability to be a true leader or how a person hires others.

Tell me about the shopping hecticness situation for ingredients, how was that done?

AL: That was horrifying and they didn’t have stuff I needed and we ended up with some really poor ingredients. It was a bit confusing to have so many of us shopping at the same time!

Man, when they threw the twist in about changing to an outdoor location I thought that was a total hose especially with your menu!

AL: I would never do a raw bar in the open sun if I knew and all the condiments got messed up.

What were your decision criteria when you had to cut a person?

AL: The only reason I decided to cut Jamie was because the others had jobs that really needed to be completed to be able to pull off the meal. It was triage. In reality during service you wouldn’t necessarily have to fire anyone but someone may get sick and have to leave the line. I saw there was no way she would finish the shucking but the other team members had really key things to complete.

AL: I expected Jamie to get started on the oysters and clams and for the boys to finish up their stuff and to give her a hand. I didn’t realize that Dale and Richard were going to go into such detail in cooking their dish. I didn’t know they were going to buy whole chickens and grind the meat themselves. It took too long for such a short period of time. Jamie is super talented and her skills weren’t the issue it was more of the tasks that still had to be completed.

Did you think about changing raw bar?

AL: It was all so far along I would have ended up with three dishes

Was there a surprise about result?

AL: I had a pretty realistic view of what was happening on my side, we were too busy to know how the other teams were performing. I am not a fan of doing buffets.

What was the strongest part of the buffet:

AL: I was happy with the stuffed ribs. The cellophane noodles should have been more fabulous with lobster but there was just so little time.

The judges loved your meat. Do you feel like you cooked some of your signature pieces and if you didn’t why didn’t you?

AL: I wouldn’t have done any of it except for the ribs, I think I also should have done things that were a bit faster. Time was a huge issue!

What was your inspiration when you were coming up with buffet?

AL: I was thinking about light and healthy for lunch for Hollywood deal makers and I wanted to have options that people could eat. I should have just gone for things that showed off what I could do best versus thinking too much about the guests in this case. But at the end of the day you are cooking for people and I wanted to make them happy.

What were the things that gave Hubert and Bayless the edge?

AL: I didn’t really see what they did as it was so busy but all of them are great chefs

Watching the show do you think Chiarello got a fair shake?

AL: When I was watching him I never saw him be as cocky as he was edited to be. So no, I don’t think he got a fair shake. He is a really great guy.

From the whole experience, was it as hard as you thought or was it harder?

AL: A lot of the challenges were circumstantial and random.

Would you do the whole thing again?

AL: [laughter]

Who do you think is going to win?

AL: I’m not allowed to say. I think all of these chefs are super talented and they are competing for great causes.

Is there anything that they didn’t show in tonight’s episode that you thought was more successful? Was there anything that they left out of the show that you would have liked the audience to see?

AL: I am glad a lot of it got edited out because it was a harrowing experience!

Oh man! It was so great to see you up there doing your thing though!

You raised $20,000 for Share and at the end of the day that makes it worthwhile.

AL: Come to the Share Fundraiser Tasting Event in New York City on September 21. I would love to see all of the people that were rooting for me through this

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Nailbiter of a Night on Top Chef Masters, but Anita is Still There.

August 5, 2009

To date, our Chef Anita Lo has raised $20,000 for Share, she has impressed judges with her food and intimidated her competition with her stealth. Let’s talk about tonight because it was a nailbiter for me to watch!

Quickfire Burger Challenge:

How did you feel when you first walked in and saw that it was a burger challenge?

Anita Lo (AL): A little scared actually! My first thought was that the only burger I have ever made for customers was the Bulgogi Beef Bun that we have at Rickshaw, which is tasty but they had really limited Asian ingredients on the “burger” table and in the pantry.

Bulgogi Beef Bun at Rickshaw

Bulgogi Beef Bun at Rickshaw


You did a cheddar soup with mini patties, croutons as the bread element with ketchup and a lettuce foam, what were some of your other ideas during brainstorming?

AL: It was quickfire so you don’t have a lot of time to think. You kind of go with what has worked in your repertoire which was def. the bulgogi bun or braised pork belly sliders we have but without the ingredients to make it I wanted to avoid fusion confusion.

It ended up being another very intellectual piece.

AL: It was basically a cheeseburger with all the flavors but in different form. At end of the day it was not one of my best dishes.

Did you think about your audience which you always seem to know very well at your restaurants?

AL: I didn’t know too much about the judges. So I didn’t cook to the audience. The only thing I could remember about Morgan Spurlock from Supersize Me was what I saw at the beginning of the movie when he had a vegan girlfriend. In retrospect I would never had done it of course, but unfortunately, I was not a fan of my own dish this time.

Are there any dishes at Annisa that you don’t like but are successful you’re your guests?

AL: Not black and white, there are some dishes that I think are iffy and I am not quite sure about and then they are well received by the guest. It still surprises me.

Can you give us an example of a well loved dish that you weren’t sold on?

AL: I had a Medai ( a kind of Japanese butterfish) I served with morels, mitsuba (a wild Japanese parsley) and ginger flower and I thought it was fine but people really liked it more than I may have expected.

OK, lets talk about the other burgers, did you get to taste any of them?

AL: We were all so busy, I got to taste Rick’s guacamoles and those were delicious.
I would have tried all of them…they all looked great.

OK, on to cute adorable, I-Can’t-Eat-A-Thing Zooey Deschanel

AL: Basically taking away meat I am OK with, no dairy, fine, gluten allergy I can deal, but then you take away soy it makes it impossible! If there is no dairy and it is vegan, the move is towards Asian but without soy its hard!

Do you think preparing a meal with that many restrictions is a fair challenge and do you think it played to anyone’s strengths or specific styles?

AL: First, I think it is a fair challenge, and as Chiarello said, Italy is about vegetables and not about so much dairy and also what Rick said that Mexican is about vegetables as well.

You made an eggplant dish with a lentil salad and a cashew paste. It seemed like you were stressed about the lentils?

AL: I like to use those French green lentils and they weren’t available to me and I didn’t have the normal battery of spices I would work with but I had to do the best I could without my regular pantry, but I can say that I do think the lentils were properly cooked.

Anything you saw the other contestants doing that caught your fancy?

AL: I loved Rick’s dish. Rick’s dish was fun on the banana leaf and he made his tamale in a banana leaf as well. The flavors were delicious.

You looked a little tired and I could tell you were definitely very focused which takes a lot of energy. How were you feeling at that point?

AL: I was fighting a cold and getting a bit worn down but i was on the mend by then. It was fun but still intense.

What was most stressful piece?

AL: Conceptualizing, shopping and even the execution were all difficult given the guest’s constraints. Even after I decided what to make it was a challenge. I knew I could get it out well but I felt it wasn’t going to be anything super exciting for me.

Do you think vegan cooking is important for a chef’s repertoire?

AL: Everyone should make something vegan

Is it more challenging for some people’s styles than others?

AL: Yes, certainly. If you are a Normandy chef it is going to be a challenge, but it is still important. That being said there can be great chefs in a specialty other than vegetarian.

Were you nervous when it came down to you and Art?

AL: I thought I was the one going home, that is why I was surpirsed at the end.

We are psyched you did not go home and I can’t wait to see you next week. Thanks!

Top Chef Gets Beaten in Mongolian Dumpling Contest

July 31, 2009

There is no place too remote for me to travel to make and eat dumplings. And indeed, every culture has a dumpling. In Mongolia where I traveled this past July with my best friend Laurie and four other female chefs, the dumplings are called buuz (pr:booze). They are made with chopped mutton or yak meat mixed with a little onion and wrapped with a simple dough made from wheat flour and cold water. Every child, male and female grows up folding these dumplings in endless shapes. Around the new year when it is traditional to eat buuz, each Mongolian will make upwards of 1500 dumplings in a few hours of a day, and perhaps will consume as many in that week. In a speed wrapping challenge, any of our Mongolian guides (and perhaps any Mongolian), would easily leave me in the dust, which is basically what is happening in this picture here. Will buuz be coming to a Rickshaw near you? No worries, we won’t be importing yak meat anytime soon. But anyone for some lamb dumplings?

Top chef, Anita Lo makes yak dumplings in Mongolia

Top chef, Anita Lo makes yak dumplings in Mongolia

Anita Wins Tonight’s Top Chef with a “Soup and Sandwich”

July 29, 2009

So let’s be straightforward here, once again you rocked the house and owned the night. Congratulations, as of this evening you have won $20,000 for your charity, Share and the respect of an amazing group of your peers and competitors.

Quickfire Mis En Place Challenge

You must have known that you were going to do well on this challenge as you are one of the few chefs of your caliber that works the line still at his/her restaurant.
Out of the four mis en place events (shucking oysters, cutting onions, cutting chickens and whisking eggs) which one did you want?

Anita Lo (AL): I knew I could do the chickens well and the others were fine but I kenw the one I didn’t want to do was to shuck oysters.

How did you feel when you were doing the chickens?

AL: I felt fast

You looked fast!

Signature Dish Swap

When you were thinking of your signature dish, how did you choose what you made?

AL: I guess my signature dish at Annisa is the Foie Gras Soup Dumpling but there were constraints such as time and execution that led me to choose a great dish that was really popular at Annisa a while back which was the Scallop, pureed potato with Chinese mustard greens and bacon.

When they told you that you guys had to reinterpret another chef’s signature dish, what were you thinking?

AL: I was thinking I didn’t want to reinterpret Rick’s because his style was so different than all of the other chefs. That being said I think that Hubert picked mine because we cook so similarly and I was glad to do his as well.

Hubert did (from left to right) a lobster and truffle cappuccino which was in essence a soup and a corn Madeleine. Tell me about how you went about reinventing his dish.

AL: If you looked at Hubert’s dish, he started off with a classical hot soup on the left so I decided to do a cold corn chawanmushi soup finished with a truffle foam and soft whipped cream. In the middle of his plate he did some herbs and I decided to do a palate cleanser of a champagne gelee (which was a nod to his French heritage but then I topped it with corn shoots (to continue the corn theme) as well as Japanese shiso leaf. Finally he did a French Madeline but out of a very American ingredient corn and I decided to do a very American biscuit but flavor it with an Asian touch, hoisin. The sandwich ended up being a truffle corn biscuit with lobster knuckle meat.

I think we can all see why you won, it was so thoughtful and looked delicious. Gael Greene called it “intellectual, sensuous and dazzling,” Jay Rayner also said that he “was not worthy” and that it was “genius.” I don’t think you could have done better.

Annisa/Rickshaw Dumpling Bar takes Top Duck Award at D’Artagnan Duckathlon

June 1, 2009

Our Chef Anita Lo and I competed in the fifth annual Duckathlon which is an event hosted by D’Artagnan every year.  D’artagnan invites local restaurants to compete in various food related competitions such as guessing the country of origin and flavors of Mustards, guessing the weight of a suckling pig identifying testicles (we knew them!), flipping crepes in All Clad pans and tasting Armagnacs.  It is a great day of events and catching up with other restaurant folk.

Despite having three team members this year (normal is four) we rocked it out and came in first place!  Last year we came in second and the prior year we won it as well!  We beat teams from Daniel, China Grill, DB Bistro, Tribeca Grill and more.  What was the booty?  We scored 4 Moulard Ducks with fois intact, close to 20 terrines of fois gras pate and lamb merguez sausages!

duckathlon 2009 anita pig

duckathlon 2009 kkl pig