Anita Lo, born in Michigan, is a second-generation Chinese American and while she studied French at Columbia University, has never worked in any field other than the restaurant business. She has had a self-proclaimed lifelong love of eating and today is chef-owner of New York’s Annisa restaurant.
It was this passion that convinced her to study cooking in Paris during her the summer of her junior year in college and immediately upon graduation, she began work in the garde-manger station at Bouley, a restaurant that then was only a year old. After an inspiring year at Bouley, Chef Lo decided to return to Paris and earn a degree in cooking at the Ritz-Escoffier school. Her experience and dedication paid off, and she graduated first in her class with honors.
She then had several internships at two-star Michelin-rated restaurants in Paris, among them under such noted chefs as Michel Rostang and Guy Savoy. Back in New York, she went on to work through all the stations in the kitchen of Chanterelle, which was followed by the position as the chef of Can, a French-Vietnamese restaurant in Soho.
Chef Lo next spent two years at Maxim's, the New York installation of one of France's oldest and most honored establishments owned by the fashion designer, Pierre Cardin and then moved to Mirezi restaurant, where she made her mark, winning rave reviews from major publications including a glowing review from the New York Times' Ruth Reichl.
Among her many media triumphs were a 1998 advertisement for the Milk Council (milk mustache intact), several television appearances on CNN, the TV Food Network, NBC, CBS, the Martha Stewart Show, and a mention in Avenue Asia's debut issue as one of the 500 most influential Asian Americans and her recipes were published in various publications, including The New York Times, Time Out, and Out.
After two years at Mirezi, Chef Lo and her partner, Jennifer Scism, spent the greater part of a year searching for the ultimate meal in South East Asia and Mediterranean Europe. Upon their return to New York they opened Annisa, a restaurant in the heart of New York’s Greenwich Village. Chef Lo is the chef, and Ms. Scism is the sommelier and operates the front of the house.
Annisa is an intimate, upscale contemporary American restaurant that since its opening in 2000, has garnered much praise, including glowing reviews from the New York Times and the New York Observer. Since its debut, Chef Lo has been named one of ten “Best New Chefs in America” by Food & Wine magazine as well as “Best New Restaurant Chef” by the Village Voice.
Did You Know?
The name Annisa was chosen by the chef and her partner to name their restaurant because, although it shows up in many languages, they liked that in English it is derived from “Anne,” which means gracious and pure, and in Arabic, it is derived from the word for women.
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