Photo by: Ana Roš and Hiša Franko archive

ANA ROŠ

World’s Best Female Chef

An hour and a half before the start of the dinner at the first Zagreb fair of beauty and luxury – Zagreb Winter FairYtale – the chef Ana Roš is having a meeting with her team. She speaks softly, passionately and clearly, but with authority. The team are listening to and absorbing her every word, just like students at a lecture. To borrow a sports phrase, Ana Roš is like a coach before an important match. Every detail of the menu is discussed, all the ingredients are reviewed and the preparation methods are explained. After the meeting, each person on the team is clear about their role; the preparation of the dinner can start.

Ana Roš began to cook out of sheer necessity, at the age of 30, while she was three months pregnant. She had a career in diplomacy and a job in Brussels waiting for her, but she met her future husband Valter, whose parents own the Hiša Franko. And they fell in love – the most powerful force that overcomes prejudice of any kind.

– As a child I wanted to be Ambassador to Tanzania, sipping cocktails by the pool. Well, when it’s really hard, I sometimes think it would be an easier option. My parents expected more from me because the conventional wisdom in our parts is that people who can’t do anything else become cooks. It’s a job for losers that doesn’t require brains, only hands. By a twist of fate, I have become my country’s ambassador. Not as a diplomat; however, clients from different parts of the world experience Slovenia through the food I make.

To use a sports analogy again, Ana Roš has started a revolution in the culinary domain as Janica Kostelić once did in the ski world. Like Croatia, which, although almost devoid of mountains, produced the greatest female skier in the world, Slovenia cultivated the world’s best female chef with not much working in her favour. It is often said in culinary circles that it’s easy for Italians and the French, who will sooner or later be noticed by someone from Michelin or Gault Millau or L’ Espresso. However, if you live and work in Kobarid, it is mission impossible because the Michelin Guide does not include Slovenia. Ana’s story is therefore even more fascinating because she earned her title of the world’s best female chef coming from a county with largely unknown cuisine.

– This is my personal explanation, and it’s also the reason why I accepted the prize: because it’s an award for incredible women who managed to succeed in this overwhelmingly men’s world that requires psychological and physical strength. That’s why it’s really a big challenge. There will always be a division between men and women, but it’s only natural.

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