Meet and Eat: Alice Gao, Serious Eats Photographer

20111104-alice-meet-eat.jpgYou've seen Alice's beautiful photos on the site. Now it's time to get to know the snappy lady behind the camera! —The Mgmt.

Name: Alice Gao
Location: East Village, NY (Gotta stay close to Abraço.)
Occupation: Full-time eater, picture-maker and coffee snob
Website/Twitter: / @alice_gao

Guilty pleasures? Spicy ox tongue and tripe (Szechuan style), McDonald's soft serve, hoarding takeout leftovers for three+ days.

Describe your perfect meal. Not gonna skimp here. It would take place in early autumn outdoors (on a balcony if you will), and if I could, I'd hire a private cook who could put together a "light" 20+ course tasting in the style of Brooklyn Fare. With lots of warm fresh bread.

What food won't you eat? Well, I'll try everything once. I regret to say that blood sausage just doesn't do it for me. Even when the first one I tried was at Blue Hill Stone Barns. I tried a few bites and immediately scooted it onto my boyfriend's plate. What a bizarre texture.

What would you like to try but haven't yet? I know I'm supposed to name a specific food item here, but I'm gonna set my bar higher and say the tasting menu at Noma. Gotta dream big!

Favorite food person? Does Marco Canora count? I have a little (read: huge) crush on him. He gave me a delicious canestrino tomato to take home the last time I was at Hearth.

When did you first realize you were a serious eater? Interestingly enough, it wasn't until freshman year of college. I was so sheltered before then! I then gained 20 pounds during the first two months of college on dining hall food and the great and cheap food carts of Philadelphia. My body was in serious shock. Oh well, better late than never.

What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? My obsession is not so much food itself but obviously photographing it. I think some of my friends are definitely embarrassed when I take photos at restaurants even though I try to be swift and would never use flash.

Favorite food sites or blogs? It was Serous Eats editor Robyn Lee's and sweets maven Kathy YL Chan's blogs that introduced me to the whole world of food blogging back in 2006. I'm still a loyal reader today. I also love Desserts for Breakfast, What Katie Ate, and La Buena Vida.

Who's your go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? When I first moved to NY, I kinda relied on The Sifty Fifty list in the iPhone app... then I used Mouthfuls Food.

And what's the best recommendation they've ever given you? Though it's been taken off the [Sifty Fifty] list now, I'd probably say Sushi Yasuda. Such a great sushi experience and I'm glad I got to go when Chef Yasuda was still there.


What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? I think I'd have to say dinner, since I tend to eat breakfast and lunch alone at home now. Dinner allows me to reconnect with the outside world. Living in the East Village spoils you—my usual haunts include Hearth, Terroir, Degustation, Jewel Bako and for cheap eats, Curry-Ya and Grand Sichuan. And Ippudo when I can go without waiting more than 30 minutes.

Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? If by cook, you mean heat up leftovers and toss an egg into it, then sure. I can make instant ramen taste pretty legit by tossing some leftovers in the "broth" and um, adding an egg into it (excellent life skills I picked up from my dad). You'd never guess it was instant!