Ana Roš on her first (and worst) ever recipes!
The chef and Phaidon author tells the Financial Times about her culinary triumphs and tragedies
Plenty of star chefs have their own, neat origin story, about how they learned to love the culinary arts either while cooking with their parents or grandparents, or working their way up through the restaurant system. However, Ana Roš of Hiša Franko in Slovenia is a little different. She may have received the World’s Best Female Chef award back in 2017 at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony in Melbourne, yet culinary excellence came to her quite late.
As Roš explains in a recent interview with the Financial Times, conducted to coincide with the publication of her new book, Ana Roš: Sun and Rain, she wasn’t much of a kiddie cook.
"I never did one hour of cooking school,” she told the paper. “My mother has said that when I was a little girl, I couldn’t fry an egg. My parents were strict about school, skiing and dancing classes [Roš excelled at both]. There was no time to do what little girls do: cook with their mother and grandmother. So, when I entered the kitchen, I needed to face not one dish but the whole menu. After a year, I created a dish I still remember: pasta filled with liquid potato in a trout and chive broth. I remember the surprise when people tried it. It proved my intent to use simple, local ingredients.”
That actual recipe doesn’t feature in our book, but the approach, as well as these techniques and ingredients still inform much of what Roš makes at Hiša Franko. Ana Roš: Sun and Rain is filled with dishes featuring local fish, game and flora, as well as Roš’s reminiscences about the region and its produce. As she tells the FT, she is happiest in the little stone house in Istria,” the family holiday home, located on Slovenia’s Adriatic coast. “It belonged to my parents. It’s surrounded by fig trees, olive trees, tomato fields. The moment I enter the village and smell the sea, I feel totally relaxed and happy.”
She’s less at home trying to cook outside of her natural environment. A trip to the Indian Ocean ended in culinary disaster. “I was cooking a gala dinner for 100 in the Maldives,” the chef recalls. “I said, ‘Let’s try and ferment these shrimps,’ thinking of a sauce made of fermented shrimp heads. But in the Maldives, it’s 15C hotter than here. The bag of heads exploded — there was shrimp sauce everywhere.”
She might be one of the world’s great kitchen talents, but, as she admits, there’s still room for progress. In a score out of ten for satisfaction in life, Roš gives herself seven. "It’s a legendary number. But there are still three points to go.”
To find out how she got to where she is today, and to recreate many of her recipes, order a copy of Ana Roš: Sun and Rain here.