Everyone Wanted an Asian Cookbook From Anita Lo, Except Anita Lo

Cooking Without Borders, or chicken fried rice.
Cooking Without Borders, or chicken fried rice. Photo: Melissa Hom

Everyone and their puppy has a cookbook out now, but there’s an extra bit of heart and soul in Anita Lo’s new book Cooking Without Borders, if for no other reason than it took her so long to make it happen. “I’ve been wanting to write something since my days at Maxim’s*, but no one wanted to publish it back then. I was turned down by agents.” After huge success at Annisa, a few literary doors opened, but “everyone wanted me to do Asian, as if they had no reality of what Americans really look like right now.” Recently, a well-respected foodie really belabored the point when he said, “’You should do an Asian street food book!’ And I was like, ‘I don’t even know how to make that? I’m French-trained. Can you not see past the color of my skin?’” After a few more hurdles, like everyone telling her to “dumb it down” and her initial attempt to write it on her own ("impossible”), the book is out, and everyone is celebrating, including the famously subdued author: “I’m a chef; I go out late and have my fun. I’ve had wild nights at the Pig.”

*This posted has been corrected to show that Lo worked at Maxim’s.