Invited to cook around the world, she prepares her dishes in the Slovenian countryside just a few minutes from the Italian border in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region
Mind, hands, passions. Three elements that can take you far from your studies down a path that you had not planned but desired. This happens primarily to the most creative of people, just as it happened, among others, to Ana Roš from Slovenia, who graduated with a degree in International and Diplomatic Sciences in Italy, and is now one of the most renowned chefs in the world.
An excellent skier, who loves to travel and speaks many languages, she toured the world as a child. This led her to explore a wide variety of cuisines, spices and flavours. She has continued to travel with her husband Valter Kramar, co-owner and sommelier of the restaurant “Hiša Franko“, where Ana now lives and works with her family. You can even sleep there, like in a big home. «We have travelled a great deal, between restaurants and wineries. An exploration and lifestyle which I have greatly enjoyed», says the chef.
At a certain point, she received her first job offer in the diplomatic sphere in Brussels: she gave it up and that was when she began her experience in the world of cooking. «The freedom to work in my own country, as well as abroad meeting new colleagues, is what enables me to be creative, she continues. None of this would have been possible if I worked in an office from nine to five».
The winner of many awards, including The World’s Best Female Chef 2017, Ana has been invited to cook around the world, from France to Italy to Switzerland to Turkey, Thailand, India and the United States of America.
The Michelin Guide has not come to Slovenia. So for the moment there are no stars. But there have been many acknowledgments from around the world.
Self-taught, and impressed by many restaurants, in particular “La Subida” run by Joško Sirk and Loredana Antoni, a venue that combines gourmet cuisine with hospitality among the vineyards of the Collio in Gorizia, Ana conceived her own oasis of joy, love and wellbeing – because these are the feelings that guide her in her work, amid the forests of her native land. «I wanted to express the seasons, the place, my character and my femininity in my food, explains Ana. And so I worked hard to explore techniques and flavours, experimenting and reading books, until I figured out my method. Every once in a while I find myself thinking how much I wanted my hands to reflect what I was thinking».
Today we find her five minutes by car from the Italian border on the Friuli Venezia Giulia side, in the countryside, in an uncontaminated territory that inspires Ana for her cuisine. She involved a series of local producers who supply her with meat, seafood, fresh mountain cheeses of the finest quality, thereby helping to support the local economy of the small town of Kobarid, near which “Hiša Franko” is located.
Lamb, kid goat, game, beef, wild herbs and flowers, cheeses, trout, honey and wild berries are some of the ingredients that may be found in her dishes. Among the recipes she prepares for her menu (at this time, but only for the next few days, she is presenting the winter menu), we find dishes such as Pear in five consistencies, sour ricotta, hibiscus flowers, or Pumpkin, duck liver, wild rose, apple kombucha, fermented apple, or Trout, whey, toasted poppy seeds, beetroot with tonka vinegar, and finally Game taco in “sanguinaccio”, crab mousse, chestnuts, to name only a few.
Today I have a technical, almost scientific approach to cooking, but it still allows the ingredients to develop or preserve their (strong) original taste
«My favourite is the raw menu – explains Ana -. The element of surprise is essential to me: alternating textures (cold/warm, soft/rigid) or contrast in taste (bitter/acid, sweet/savoury)».
Committed to social issues, Ana believes in and takes part in charity cooking projects such as the “Creative Services Support group” in India, an initiative that sustains Indian girls to provide adequate educations and jobs, and the “Refettorio Ambrosiano”, the programme by Massimo Bottura that involves chefs from around the world with the goal of helping the neediest people. If you ask her what is the secret to her success, she answers: «I work hard to remain a woman just like every other, with a normal life and friends to drink and chat with». And for those who cannot go all the way to Slovenia, Ana is also on Netflix, in the series titled “Chef’s Table”, season two, where the chef talks about her world.
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translation by Olga Barmine