Interview: Ana Roš shares a snapshot of her life in food

This article first appeared in print in issue 27 of Supper. Subscribe here.

Self-taught chef Ana Roš, who helms the kitchen at the two-Michelin starred Slovenian restaurant Hiša Franko, shares her favourite food memories.

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When did you first fall in love with cooking? 

I don’t really remember! As a student I just cooked to feed myself and my roommates; the serious cooking started in 2002. 

What is your most memorable meal?

The most memorable meal of my life lasted for around 24 hours. It was on a journey from Fianarantsoa to Manakara in Eastern Madagascar, on an 18th-century Swiss train that stopped at around 20 stations, each with their own food stalls. It was the best dining experience I’ve ever had; we ate so much that by the end we were filling our pockets with food! 

What’s your favourite dish and who cooks it?

An amazing pizza by chef-pizzaiolo Simone Padoan, prepared in Italy. 

And something to drink with that?

Red wine while eating, then a lovely Averna liqueur with ice and a slice of orange to finish. 

It’s Sunday evening at home: who’s cooking and what’s on the menu? 

It’s always me cooking, and I don’t often go grocery shopping, so I never know what I’m going to find in the fridge. It makes the meals very creative and diverse! That said, it’s often a pasta dish. 

What’s your go-to cooking soundtrack?

I always listen to music: my children understand whether I’m happy or sad, depending on my music. A friend recently introduced me to a Balkan band called Haustor. I fell in love with their track Šal Od Svile – you need to speak Croatian or Serbian to understand it, but I’ve listened to it a lot when cooking because it makes me curious, and being curious when you cook is so important.

Which chefs have inspired you?

My biggest hero in the restaurant business has always been René Redzepi.

Are you an easygoing or a demanding restaurant customer?

I’m a difficult customer when it comes to the quality of ingredients, because when I eat vegetables I’m looking for fresh, seasonal and sustainable – that can be difficult to find. I’m not the sort of person to complain, but I don’t want to eat a dish that I believe has destroyed what should be natural and beautiful. When fine dining I never complain but of course I have my own personal criteria, because fine dining is very subjective. 

Where do you get the creative inspiration for your dishes?

I’m inspired by nature: I spend a lot of time hiking or running outdoors and I observe what’s going on in the environment around me. When I see things growing together I imagine how they might work in dishes. I’m also inspired by travel memories, from street food in Vietnam or Japan to an incredible course at Central in Lima, Peru. I get flashbacks and then my imagination starts working. I think creative people have very active imaginations, and that’s where most things happen. 

Which new restaurant are you eager to try out? 

I recently dined at Koan, Kristian Baumann’s new project in Copenhagen, and was completely blown away by the quality of the food. 

Who is your favourite person to cook for? 

This is fun – my ex-husband Valter, because he really loves eating and he’s in love with my cooking! Even though we haven’t been a couple for four years, sometimes when I’m cooking for the children I ask if he wants to join us, because his praise is the best soundtrack.

Which cookbooks can we find on your shelf? 

Too many to name! There are some that mean a lot to me, that I’ve had since I first started cooking. One was written by Joan Roca about the technique of sous-vide cooking. Another is Albert Adrià’s first pastry cookbook; I bought it in El Bulli back in 1999 when I wasn’t yet a chef, but the fun thing is that since then, Albert and I have become friends. I don’t think he knows that his book was my inspiration whenever I had creativity blackouts; I liked to indulge in all his crazy techniques and flavour combinations! 

Which city is food heaven for you? 

Copenhagen, because there’s such a concentration of incredible dining spots. And of course Bangkok; when I come home I never know what to cook, because the flavours over there are so incredible. 

www.hisafranko.com

Photo: © Suzan Gabrijan