What are Anthony Zhao’s favorite restaurants?

Chez Panisse is one of my favorite restaurants. It’s famous in San Francisco for its local, organic food, but it’s the philosophy that really impressed me. I had the opportunity to do a short stagiaire there, and I got to understand the philosophy. The more I understood the ideas behind the restaurant, the more I liked it. They have an amazing way of treating their staff; everyone is given equal consideration and listened to. They also give their staff a full meal of all the same food as served on the menu and in a proper dining room. I’ve been a chef for more than 20 years and I’ve never seen that before in any kitchen. I’ve never been to any restaurant that treats its staff as well as Chez Panisse.

Another amazing restaurant is Paul Pairet’s Ultraviolet, a restaurant that’s unique not just in Shanghai but in the world. The 900-square-meter (9,687-square-foot) restaurant has a staff of 25 and serves 20 courses to just one table. Each course has its own story and is paired with videos, pictures, music, sound, smell and lighting. Everything that happens gives you some kind of surprise; you never know what’s going to happen next. The chef presents each dish in a fun way, and it’s a very playful, exciting dining experience.

Just recently, I went to an interesting award-winning Mexican restaurant called The Painted Burro, on a very hippie street in Davis Square [in] Somerville, Massachusetts. The restaurant has a cool, modern-meets-antique Mexican mixture in the décor. They serve contemporary Mexican dishes with very powerful flavors, and you can feel that the chef really put his heart into the cooking. The dishes introduced me to many new flavors that I’ve never experienced. Sometimes you go to a restaurant and you taste a lot of dishes that are very similar, but at The Painted Burro, there were loads of new flavors. I particularly loved the carne asada (grilled beef) and Baja fish tacos.

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