The rise of two extraordinary chefs
It might have been the historic moment, it might have been that we underestimated them for too long: women-chefs finally came back into the spotlight. 2017 was the year that consecrated two extraordinary women. Ana Ros, the celebrated Slovenian chef of Netflix’s famous series “Chef’s Table” who won the prestigious “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” as the year’s best chef and Rosio Sanchez who appeared beside Rene Redzepi in the charmed Noma project in Mexico and returned to her Copenhagen to open a third restaurant. These women are very different, in personality and style, but they have in common the love for the fireplace, intended in the widest sense of the word.
Rosio Sanchez found her dimension ten thousand kilometers from her land. Born in Chicago of a Mexican family, Rosio was 19 when she discovered her passion for the kitchen and it never left her. Transplanted in cold Denmark years ago to follow her dream she ended up in Noma’s kitchen and stayed there until 2014 when she understood that her next adventure would be reality all her own, but it was not a classic restaurant. In fact, since she was feeling nostalgic Rosio wanted to eat her beloved Mexican dishes in Europe in a relaxed but well looked after environment with highest quality ingredients and smart service.
Despite the ever-present Danish cold, the idea was to recreate the warmth of a traditional taqueria (taco restaurant) that exceeded the limits of such places. So Hija de Sanchez was born and the format that she conceived now boasts two restaurants in Copenhagen. Rosio imported the raw materials from Mexico, using whenever possible Danish ingredients, the corn tortillas are homemade and stuffed as per tradition: huevos rancheros (fried eggs), ox tongue, black mole, crispy skin fish, and then fresh coriander, sour cream, spices and a lot of avocado. And the sweet notes come from the fresh fruit ice cream which is a must in Mexico.
Tenacity pays off: Rosio, who was already Rene Redzepi’s student in the spring of 2017, was chosen by him as his partner in crime for his Noma in Tulum, Mexico. Rosio was essential for developing the menu and carrying out the project and introducing Redzepi to the colours, markets and the traditions of her country of origin.
And in fact, it was said chef who announced enthusiastically the young women’s new project and in November she opened her real restaurant, Sanchez Cantina. A restaurant inspired by the traditional cantinas, an evolution that brings together Mexican and Scandinavian heritage in a unique simple menu that does not lose direction: make yourself at home.
After her studies and a diplomatic career that was the joy of her parents, Ana Ros went away from her land and then returned for love when she met Valter Kramar. Already a sommelier and an expert of cheeses, Valter helped his parents in the family inn, a structure with a long history in which, it is said, Hemingway loved to stay (it is even whispered that he wrote “A Farewell to Arms” here).
Finding herself at a crossroads, Ana rolled up her sleeves: Valter’s parents left the business and she chose to take it up with him working the floor and her at the stove learning the technique on her own. Ana tasted sample after sample at the restaurants where Valter took her to study flavours, during which she developed an idea that when she put it into practice became what is now Hisa Franko, the restaurant that raised the Slovenian flag over the international gastronomic scene.
Hisa Franko, fine dining with the spirit of an inn, is a window into Slovenia that is o
pen to the world. Within its walls, in which five languages are spoken, we find all the complexity of this territory that up till now was unjustly underestimated: Cuttlefish, sea salad, smoked young onions; Asparagus and nutmeg ravioli, bone marrow, prosciutto and hazelnuts broth; Beef tongue, scallops, celeriac and dashi soup (made with dried fish); Adriatic turbot, oysters, citron salad, spinach, infusion of kaffir lime.
One objective: giving dignity back to local products. For example, the lamb that Ana uses in her restaurant grazes on the hillsides overlooking the sea that are lashed by a strong wind that deposits salt on the grass which gives the meat a natural saltiness, a little like what happens to the famous presalé lamb of Brittany. This shows that you do not have to go elsewherewhen you have everything you need to feed your creativity and a husband that is the perfect complement to you and your cuisine.
May the story of these two women, who followed their passions enthusiastically and tenaciously, with grace and naturalness, motivated by their love for simple things be an inspiration for all the people who want to make their dreams come true.
The “treasure” of a chef engaged in civic activities for the rebirth of his country.