Anita Lo of Annisa
Photography by Sarah Elliott
EyeSwoon has opened doors I didn’t even know existed but ones that were without doubt locked. Creating this platform where the food community, both bloggers and chefs, can gather was the key to my yellow brick road. I arrive each time into a different kitchen, meet another profoundly-talented chef, and learn a ridiculous amount about food and technique. To me, these experiences are more than a belly well-fed–they’re a life well-lived. I would never in a zillion years have imagined stepping into the kitchen with renowned chef Anita Lo, chef and owner of Annisa in Manhattan. I would have never have had the privilege had it not been for EyeSwoon, and yet there we were last week in the West Village, making friends and creating a meal together.
As we cooked, we slowly got to chatting, warming up to one another as I asked questions and observed this masterful chef in her element. Anita is certainly passionate about her craft, but I was also amazed at how attuned she was to allowing us to capture the process. She slowed down in order to allow Sarah, our photographer, to compose a shot, even asking if Sarah and I wanted her to redo something. Seeing how Anita’s acute awareness extended all the way from her cooking to the purpose of our visit to the grace and precision with which she plated our trout, it was obvious to me what an artist she is.
Anita was open and descriptive as she created a trout with smoked roe and sweet corn, explaining the process of how to smoke the roe as we went. We got to chatting about social media, (she does not engage), and the importance of escaping the city to find some solitude. Anita shared that she loves to fish at her home on the North Fork of Long Island and how it is there that she workshops some of the dishes at Annisa. I asked questions, like does she always blanch her basil, and Anita was kind and willing to answer my every whim. It was a fun day — her tiny kitchen produced BIG seasonal flavor and I walked away that much a greater cook for observing Anita in action. When I asked Anita why she became a chef she answered, “I love to eat and I love working with my hands,” and when I asked her to describe how cooking makes her feel she responded, “Focused, passionate and content.” It is that simple, isn’t it?