The most important thing to know about Ana Ros is that she is an instinctive chef who is self-taught. She began working at the restaurant Franko while she was studying to be in the diplomatic service. We could be writing about an ambassador, but we are not. Ros is an excellent cook who speaks four languages fluently; during those early days we are talking about, she worked under Valter Kramar, the then chef at the restaurant. Today, he is one of the best sommeliers in Slovenia.
Let’s talk about him for a moment: Twenty-five years ago, Valter was one of only two sommeliers who had studied oenology in Italy. Thanks to his in-depth knowledge about wine and his great culinary skills, Franko, the restaurant he ran, quickly became one of the best in Slovenia.
Then Ana arrived; she began working there and they became partners, beyond their work in the kitchen. She was in charge of doing simple jobs. Valter introduced her to me by saying, ‘This is Ana, my girlfriend, who is studying to be in the diplomatic service, and is helping us out a bit at the restaurant.’
On my next visit, there was a dish that I particularly liked, a trout fillet made with tea that was fantastic. As Valter served it to me he said, ‘Ana made this dish. She’s a very talented cook.’
Soon, Ana rose to the position of sous-chef and they had also become engaged. Within a few years, she had become the restaurant’s executive chef and Valter – constantly encouraging Ana to continue developing her huge potential and talent – was running the front of house.
Her rise has been supersonic. Fresh produce from the garden, the hillsides and the nearby woods, make up 95% of the raw materials she uses; many of which have been long-forgotten. Today, she is trying to use only local produce, something that has become known as the ‘kilometre-zero’ philosophy.
Hisa Franko (Franko House) is in the countryside, at the foot of the mountains, very close to the beautiful Soca River, in western Slovenia. Anyone used to frequenting restaurants might find it difficult to imagine a high-level eatery at Hisa Franko because the house is, literally, in the middle of nowhere.
They catch trout and other fish from the river, use smoked meats and cheeses that are made on nearby farms. Many of the dishes look deceptively simple, but they become great creations thanks to the way raw produce is used, coupled with the great culinary skill of this cook; dishes that take shape via the use of modern cooking techniques, as well as local ones which Ana Ros has incorporated into her repertoire to give rise to some of the most original dishes in the world.
By Tomas Srsen