Anita Lo is an industry veteran; the chef known for cross-cultural creations first opened Annisa in 2000, and has since re-opened her spot thanks to a fire, re-earned a two-star review, and finally received a three star from Pete Wells.
Unlike other industry veterans, however, you’ll still find Lo at the restaurant five days a week. She’ll be working the line, taking care of emails and bills and delivering her cooks drinks after the last ticket of the day. “I don’t have a schedule as I’m asked to do so many different things, but I consider myself on the clock Tuesday to Saturday, and I’m always on call,” she says.
We dropped by Annisa late on a Friday night, to find Lo still hustling around the restaurant, despite a limp from a temporary hip incident. And while the limp may have slowed Lo down, she still managed to finish inventory, call in orders and finish up emails to head home before midnight. “After [12 years], hopefully you have a well-oiled machine that can take better care of itself,” Lo said.
11:09 p.m.: First look into the kitchen: The never-ending dishwashing cycle.
11:11 p.m.: Anita Lo goes through inventory with her cooks.
11:12 p.m.: Meanwhile, as the team figures out what ingredients need to be replenished, extra ingredients from the day get put away and labeled.
11:13 p.m.: The packed kitchen, post-dinner rush.
11:15 – 11:30 p.m.: More inventory taking… and more packing. Every container is marked with the ingredient name and date.
11:20 p.m.: Last couple plates go out the door.
11:30 p.m.: The bandana finally comes off, as Lo finishes the final items on her to-do list. “I’m working less than I did in 2000,” Lo said, noting that when she first opened she would oftentimes work seven days a week. Nowadays, she’s working five days a week, whether it’s working the line, calling in orders from suppliers, checking inventory, paying bills, or simply responding to emails.
11:31 p.m.: Lo writes yet another list, finalizing menu items and ingredients.
11:31 p.m.: The Annisa office, storing books, plates, gadgets, files, and chef jackets – the decidedly not-glamorous aspect of the food world.
11:34 p.m.: Outside the office, a photo of Pete Wells, alongside a slew of posters and notices for workers.
11:36 p.m.: And finally, one more inventory count, this time for the bar.