Home' Hospitality Business : HB MAY 2017 Contents WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU WERE
TOLD YOU WERE THE RECIPIENT?
was pretty silent for the first week.The award came as a sur prise to
me. For the first few days, I felt confused, even scared. It is a huge
responsibility to accept this award, especially as a self-taught cook.
I live in a pretty unknown part of the world and there is so
much that can be done to promote the area in ter ms of tour ism and
gastronomy. Hiša Franko is trying to develop a unique way of how
a countryside restaurant should be. I am constantly explor ing new
ways of integrating Slovenia’s ter roir into my cuisine. That’s how I
communicate with my country and the world.
To get to where I am now is a reflection of the huge personal and
business sacr ifices that I’ve made. Acknowledgements like this prove
that I am on the r ight path and keep pushing me forward.
DO YOU THINK BEING FEMALE MEANS YOU HAVE A
DIFFERENT STYLE IN THE KITCHEN - BOTH IN THE WAY
YOU CREATE FOOD AND THE WAY YOU MANAGE PEOPLE?
The most sensitive cuisine that I’ve tasted was from a male chef. We
have different ways of managing people, and I think women tend to
create a family feeling. People still don’t believe that I can shout and
have a temper. But when I do shout, they know that I can do it.
RESTAURANT KITCHENS ARE DOMINATED BY MEN.
DID YOU FACE ANY PROBLEMS OR CHALLENGES WHEN
YOU DECIDED TO BREAK INTO THE INDUSTRY?
One story I recall reveals the many challenges. In 2012, I was invited
to take part in the last or iginal Cook it Raw session, as the first
female chef.The event was held in Poland, and everything that could
possibly go wrong did. First I missed my flight and, as a result, the press
conference. While there I was ser iously bitten by a dog. Later I was in
a kayak that flipped over, of course in front of all the jour nalists who
attended the event. Finally, when I was cooking the last dinner I was
stung by a bee while cutting beets, had an allergic reaction and needed
a doctor. It came down to an essential question: Can a girl survive the
boys’ scout camp? I proved you can.
DO YOU SEE MORE FEMALE CHEFS
COMING INTO THE INDUSTRY?
It is a slow process. At the moment, we need to overcome this
perception that there is a difference between the genders. I see it that all
chefs share the same love and dedication. At the end of the evening we
are all equal in front of the client. The difference between a male and
female chef is related to the traditional roles in our society, not about
the quality of the food or technical skills.
Young chefs also need to be aware of the reality of this line of work.
The reality is not accurately portrayed in reality shows with celebrity
chefs. It’s a tough industry, but it is also so rewarding.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER IS THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS?
I fight hard to remain an ordinary woman with a nor mal lifestyle, and
that includes having female friends who enjoy a drink and gossiping
HOW DID YOUR PASSION FOR FOOD EVOLVE?
It is still evolving. It’s about pushing yourself out of your own comfort
zone and trying to achieve your ver y best.
HOW DO YOU INCORPORATE LOCAL INGREDIENTS INTO YOUR
DISHES? ARE THERE ANY UNIQUE AND RARE INGREDIENTS
THAT YOU USE; COULD YOU TELL US HOW YOU SOURCE THEM?
The main idea at Hiša Franko is to keep tradition alive. Our dishes are
closely connected to Slovenian ter roir and what our ancestors used to
make. Being aware of these two things, and continuously explor ing, is
the starting point from which I create my dishes.
Key to Hiša Franko’s story is that we’ve built a chain of strictly local
producers. The house is in a remote location, far from major suppliers. We
didn’t need to find producers close by, but we chose to. The process took
a decade, and it is something we are still developing. It guarantees us the
freshest possible produce that completely local and original.We brought
a lot of forgotten dishes back to life, and are building a New Slovenian
cuisine which makes the dining exper ience at Hiša Franko truly unique.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUNG CHEFS?
Have courage and question what you do.Travel and lear n from talking to
people. Never fall asleep.There is a world out there to discover and food
to exper ience while travelling. Even looking around the cor ner will make
you think in a different way and tur n you into a better person and chef.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? WHAT IS THE NEXT
CHALLENGE YOU’VE SET FOR YOURSELF?
At the moment, all our focus is on Hiša Franko and a little brewery
we’ve taken over a few months ago. The local water is very good, which
is a fundamental element for creating a great craft beer. We have two
young partners working on this project.The name of the beer that we
are just launching is FEO, named after a contemporary local poet.
We are also opening a tiny bistro next month in an old building in
the centre of Kobar id, with a focus on local traditional food.We name
the bistro as POLONKA, which is the nick name of the family that
owns the house. The food will be paired with our wines and beer and
the concept will be or iented towards a younger generation. It will be a
great place to try our new beers and grab a bite in a fun place.
WHAT IS SLOVENIA’S BEST-KEPT CULINARY SECRET?
My menu focuses on drawing out the beauty of Slovenian ingredients
and showcasing this wonderful biodiversity. It’s really this country’s best-
kept secret. It’s very green, and quite unspoiled, the nature and produce
change as you travel around the country.We have dairy products from the
high mountains, a lot of endemic wild plants.... many plants that grow in
our mountains have an original flavour that is so different due to the sea
breeze, which changes the minerality of the soil. Slovenia is connected to
the Mediterranean and Adriatic Sea, so we use a lot of fish in our dishes.
In ter ms of food, I would suggest to mostly eat in gostilnas, Slovenia’s
version of Italian oster ia, where food can be traditional, sometimes with
an unusual twist. I would suggest to people coming here to visit the
country’s organic food producers and winemakers. I think they would
be sur prised with what they might find. n
Hospitality BUSINESS | May 2017 | 39
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