Ana Roš of Hiša Franko in Kobarid, Slovenia, has been named The World’s Best Female Chef 2017. She will be presented with the honor at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony at the historic Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne on April 5th.
A self-taught chef, Roš grew up influenced by the cuisines of Slovenia’s neighboring countries – Italy, Hungary, Austria and Croatia. At Hiša Franko, Roš draws inspiration from Slovenia’s culinary heritage and ingredients, adding audacious, surprising twists to traditional dishes.
Housed in an historic 1860 building, Hiša Franko is a family business with Roš working alongside her husband, Valter. Together they present an innovative, inviting dining experience that evokes the warmth and hospitality of a private residence. With Hiša Franko situated in Slovenia’s beautiful Soča Valley only three kilometers from the Italian border, Roš takes full advantage of the location to source ingredients from local producers.
A former national ski champion, Roš originally pursued a career in the diplomatic corps. In 2000, however, she and Valter took ownership of Hiša Franko from Valter’s father, prompting Roš to begin her gastronomic journey. While honing her culinary skills, Roš discovered the exceptional quality and diversity of Soča Valley produce. Building on this foundation, Roš developed a sophisticated, seasonal menu that highlights the freshness of local ingredients and introduces gourmands to the traditions of her native cuisine.
Throughout her career, Roš has connected food with philanthropy. The 44-year-old chef has traveled to India to mentor underprivileged girls, taught recovering addicts how to cook and hosts an annual event for local children in her kitchen to demonstrate the simple pleasures of baking bread. Her participation in global culinary events and congresses has raised her profile, further boosted by her featuring in the acclaimed Netflix series, Chef’s Table.
Accepting the prestigious accolade, Roš added: “The award came as a surprise to me. It is a big responsibility to accept this award, especially as a self-taught cook, but the recognition provides an opportunity for people to reassess Slovenia as an interesting gastronomic destination.”
Roš follows in the footsteps of a series of notable female chefs in holding this prestigious title, including the inimitable Dominique Crenn in 2016, as well as Hélène Darroze (2015), Helena Rizzo (2014), Elena Arzak (2013), Nadia Santini (2012) and Anne-Sophie Pic (2011). The selection of this year’s winner also reflects the broad gastronomic geography of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants brand, shining the spotlight on a chef from a relatively little-known culinary country.
Images credit: Suzan Gabrijan & Hisa Franko