Meet the Innovators: Anita Lo vs. Phillip Foss

This week we're focusing on the eight innovative chefs who have clawed their way from the first round to the second round of our bracket-vote contest. (And by "clawed" we mean presented their bona fides in a dignified way.) Have you started voting already? (Get started NOW! This round ends on Sunday!!)

And a reminder: If you vote in all the battles, you can enter for a chance to win a trip, with a guest, to the victorious chef's restaurant. That's a trip worth $3,500! And you can come back once a day to vote, which means once a day to enter the sweepstakes.

Now let's take a look at Anita Lo and Phillip Foss.

Anita Lo: Must we invoke the legendary phoenix? We must. Because Anita Lo's restaurant, Annisa, burst into an electricity-fueled conflagration in 2009 and the place was gutted. Did Lo rise again? She did. "And the food Ms. Lo is cooking there is as good as any she has made in her career," said Sam Sifton in his two-star review of Annisa a year later. Lo has flirted with other businesses, like a dumpling house and a barbecue place; she has made the almost-requisite appearances on television (and on CHOW video). But Annisa remains her touchstone, and her Asian and African flavors, combined with pitch-perfect technique, consistently draw raves.

Phillip Foss: He is a refreshingly honest, Internet-savvy chef, blogging and tweeting prolifically and unapologetically, even when it comes to his pot-smoking, rabble-rousing past. What he lacks in humility he makes up for in ambition (or smart luck): He quit his five-year gig at Le Cirque to travel, ending up several years later in Chicago at the Lockwood, where he started racking up the accolades. The stint ended abruptly when his outspoken Internet presence became a PR boondoggle for the restaurant (witness this tweet). And he shifted from fine dining to mobile dining, starting the Meatyballs Mobile empire (now up to three trucks) and advocating to change Chicago's surprisingly limiting food-truck regulations. He has plans to open a small restaurant called El out of his Meatyballs kitchen, serving "meatballs by day and more refined dishes by night," according to the Chicago Tribune.

Start voting!

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