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Ana Roš. Foto: Reuters
. Foto: MMC RTV SLO
Roš and her team. Foto: Reuters

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Year of Ana Roš, world's no. 1 female cook: 150 flights in 365 days

House Franko has had its best season ever this year
30. December 2017 ob 11:37
Ljubljana - MMC RTV SLO

“We’ve had several guest chefs but I’m very nervous ahead of today’s dinner,” explained Hubert Wallner while introducing Ana Roš at a pre-Christmas event prepared at his restaurant Saag Ja on Lake Vrba/Wörther.

When that statement is uttered by someone who is hosting Thomas Morgenstern, a retired Austrian star of ski jumping, as well as the political elite of Austrian Carinthia at this very same, sold-out event (the price is 270 euros), it is evident how great of a reputation Roš enjoys among her culinary colleagues.

To say that Hiša Franko (Franko House), run by this Kobarid-based master, has had its best season so far would be an understatement. In January this year, Ana Roš was named the world’s best female cook in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants selection, and since then her pace has been brutal.

The foundations for this year's season, which has been a record one in all respects, were set last year when the restaurant in an idyllic location between the peaks and the Soča River was discovered by Netflix – Roš was presented in an episode of the Chef's Table documentary series, which aims to introduce the best culinary masters of the world.

The frenzy was triggered by Netflix
By then, Roš had already built a reputation within the inner chef circle of an excellent, daring and independent cook without culinary school education, who successfully combines local raw ingredients and her cosmopolitan breadth, but Netflix took her name much further. Suddenly, one could not hear any Slovenian in Hiša Franko - the tables were occupied by Americans for several months, and foreigners from all over the world even outnumbering Slovenians in the cooking team after having filled the e-mailboxes of the Franko House with requests for apprenticeship.

Among them was Emily Walden Harris, an American of Korean descent, who by the age of 28 had already worked in all the best restaurants in the world, but she felt the most at home in the relaxed environment of Hiša Franko. The curious Harris was quickly promoted to Roš’s sous-chef and is able to manage the kitchen full of a young, sophisticated team even when the mistress and master, sommelier Valter Kramar, are away from home.

Hiša Franko – 69th best restaurant in the world
And the mistress was not home much this year. As expected, after Roš rolled into the female chef's throne in January, succeeding Elena Arzak, Nadia Santini, Helena Rizzo, Helena Darroze and Dominique Crenn, in March Hiša Franko for the first time became part of the world’s ‘100 best restaurants’ list by taking 69th place.

Roš then fled the media, who mercilessly begged for interviews, to "recharge the batteries" at Sri Lanka before moving into a higher gear for the remaining part of the year. Cooking in London at ChefStock, reinterpreting Mayan cuisine in Mexico, cooking with the best Asian chef Gaggan Anand in Bangkok, cooking at weddings in India, visiting the Maldives, Brazil, Australia, Tokyo as a guest chef as well as working with world’s best chefs at the Gelinaz event in Austria, at Care's in Alta Badia and at the Ikra Festival in Sochi ...

In the meantime, a handful of promotional events in Slovenia, weekly visits of the most renowned foreign culinary writers, struggles with Slovenian ministries and tourist associations that still do not know how to market Ana Roš, and even more interviews.

Although Roš says she has had to reject more offers than she could accept, she has taken no fewer than 150 flights this year.

Kaja Sajovic, MMC; translated by K. Z.