World-Renowned Chef Ana Ros Makes India Debut


(MENAFN- IANS) New Delhi, Feb 24(IANSlife) World-renowned Chef Ana Ros made her public debut in India as a part of Rendezvous by The Chambers – The Culinary Chronicles at Taj Mahal, New Delhi. We spoke to her about her culinary journey and what she served up for the Indian palette.

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When it comes to Michelin stars, what qualities does your restaurant Hisa Franko standout for?

Chef Ana Ros: When it comes to Michelin stars, I believe that Hisa Franko embodies qualities of maturity and consistency, which are crucial criteria for being awarded such prestigious accolades. For a restaurant to achieve that milestone, it needs to consistently deliver exceptional quality and ensure that for every aspect of the dining experience - from kitchen to service.

How difficult is innovation in food today and do you believe innovation is creating something novel from something tried and tested or inventing new techniques ?

Chef Ana Ros: Well, if we talk about food innovation, the landscape in the industry is nuanced and intricate. Unlike the technology sector, where thousands of possibilities exist for transforming products without altering their flavour, the culinary world faces unique challenges. While the 1990s and early 2000s saw a surge in molecular cuisine, where techniques from industry were adapted for fine dining to create unbelievable textures, the current trend leans heavily towards sustainability and honouring culinary traditions.

Today, innovation often involves showcasing the rich legacy and diverse array of ingredients inherent to a specific locale, while employing both known and unknown techniques to enhance flavours. However, it's essential to acknowledge that while molecular cuisine demonstrated the boundless possibilities within food innovation, each transformation may unintentionally compromise the purity of flavours.

What do you feel is the USP Hisa Franko?

Chef Ana Ros: Hisa Franko finds itself in a very particular area that is unique because the Soca Valley has been isolated from the world. Not completely isolated, but it has been very difficult to reach, and it still is. This maintains the uniqueness of the traditions and, of course, of the ingredients.

We have some very unique ingredients, especially from the high mountains, like fermented cottage cheese that is unavailable anywhere else in the world. Additionally, Hisa Franko is situated at a crucial geographical point-it is a crossroad between the Mediterranean and the Alpine world. So, practically from all our mountains, you can see the sea, which is 35 kilometres air distance from the gulf of Trieste. So, you can imagine how the sea breeze changes the mineralogy of the soil, thus affecting the flavour of the plants and the animals that consume them.

And, of course, it's creativity and a bit of craziness in our food combinations.

Personally do you prefer comfort food or fine dine? What is your go to soul food?

Chef Ana Ros: Well, I don't think you can eat fine dining every single day. Fine dining should be a festivity, a beautiful occasion when I go out, dress up, and make myself feel beautiful. It's like going to a theatre, an opera, or an art gallery. Fine dining, for me, is reserved for special occasions, whether it's a celebration or a business meeting. It needs to be special; otherwise, it loses its shine. Additionally, it's expensive because it's a luxury, something we shouldn't indulge in every day.

Comfort food, on the other hand, is for everyday consumption. It's what makes you happy daily. I believe it's important for comfort food to also be healthy because then it's even more comforting. When we eat comfort food, we want to feel like we've treated our bodies well. Personally, I love indulging in pizza once a week. Being a gluten lover, pasta and pizza are among my favourite dishes. They're also very typical of the Mediterranean diet, which forms a significant part of our cuisine. So, having pasta once a day and pizza once a week feels comforting, especially because it's gluten-based, and I enjoy it immensely.

Do you agree that food melts distances and brings people together, why is this?

Chef Ana Ros: Food definitely brings people to the table. It brings them together. The table has always held significant meaning in families. It was the time of day when everyone gathered to discuss their day, socialise, and share both good and sometimes even bad experiences. I would compare it to bread; in European culture, bread always occupies the centre of the table, symbolising sharing and togetherness. Similarly, food has the power to melt distances.

I love the excitement of collaborating with other talented chefs and bringing a taste of Slovenia to new places, just like we're bringing it here at Taj Mahal New Delhi and Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai with Conosh.

Foodies travel the world to discover new culinary identities, emphasising the importance of restaurants maintaining their uniqueness. Ultimately, food also has the ability to resolve conflicts. Over a great meal, positive solutions often emerge, especially in conflictual situations. Food truly has remarkable power.

Every culture brings its own food traditions to the table, what do you feel are your cultures traditions?

Chef Ana Ros: India has so many wonderful traditions. Here at Taj Mahal Hotel New Delhi, I have closely observed the Chefs – both the experienced ones, and the young talent, celebrate various food trends and traditions. From local to global, their research and understanding is really good.

When we speak about Slovenian food, we speak more about the regional food that dictates how and what we eat. Dinner holds particular significance in our culture, serving as a time for family to come together after varied daily schedules. This tradition has persisted through generations, emphasising the importance of the evening meal as a substantial event. Our culinary customs are deeply rooted in the Soca Valley's unique blend of Alpine and Mediterranean influences. We incorporate ingredients like butter and olive oil, and foraging plays a prominent role in our food culture. For example, as spring approaches, we eagerly gather the first sprouts of dandelion, typically served with warm vinegar and potatoes, creating a delightful meal.

During the elder blossom season, we prepare elder blossom syrup, a refreshing beverage enjoyed throughout the year when mixed with water and ice. Polenta, slowly cooked over an open fire, is a staple in our diet, often accompanied by melting cheese or a savoury sauce. While meat consumption is moderate, dairy products are abundant, with cows primarily valued for cheese and milk production.

Traditionally, cows were only consumed once they were no longer productive, leading to longer life expectancies compared to other regions. This dairy abundance has long sustained Slovenian households, complemented by an abundance of home-grown vegetables.

Also, in Slovenia, we all have gardens. Every house even in the capital has a garden and we are growing a lot of our own vegetables. Especially I think no nation in the world eats more salads than Slovenia eats. As a tradition, even when we invite people to our homes we put the salad in the middle of the table and we eat from the bowl.

Indian food is very rich in spices and gravy do you feel it works for your palette and which Indian dish would you like to make your own?

Chef Ana Ros: I am greatly enjoying all the flavours here at Taj Mahal Delhi, and the other restaurants that I have visited for Indian food, such as Loya. Well, I have a great appreciation for spices and enjoy incorporating them into my culinary creations. In India, I believe the quality of the chef is defined by the spice combination he's doing. I find their skill in achieving the balance between proteins, vegetables, and spice mixtures fascinating. There's a logical depth to the use of spices in Indian cuisine that adds layers of complexity to the dishes.

Regarding which Indian dish I'd like to adapt, there are several possibilities. I'm drawn to the idea of incorporating elements like pastes and gravies into our home cooking. Additionally, I'm intrigued by Indian flatbreads, particularly paranthas, with their versatility in fillings. Exploring variations of stuffed paranthas could offer exciting snack options.

Last year, we introduced a dosa dish at Hisa Franko, featuring curry leaves and a blend of our own beans and lentils. While some guests likened it to a pancake, I saw it as a Sri Lankan version of dosa, designed for a softer consistency.

What did you present to the Indian audience?

Chef Ana Ros: The foundation of the menu remained true to the essence of Hisa Franko, we infused it with elements inspired by the vibrant flavours found in Indian spices and ingredients sourced from local markets. It's an exciting blend of our signature dishes with a touch of Indian influence. For our Rendezvous dinners at Taj Mahal New Delhi, we brought some ingredients with us but sourced a lot of ingredients from the New Delhi spice market Khari Baoli and wet markets.

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