During The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2017 awards ceremony, acceptance speeches ranged from mutual appreciation to profound and to the point. One of the most personal and honest accounts of the night came from Ana Roš, when she took the stage to accept the award for World's Best Female Chef 2017.
The self-taught Slovenian chef of Hiša Franko touched on the personal investment that goes into 15 years of putting a remote family owned restaurant on the culinary map all while negotiating the fine balance between family and professional life. Ending on a lighter note she raised ripples of laughter from the international audience with her tongue in cheek reference to her symbolic red dress.
Here's what she had to say on the night:
When William (Drew) called in December to me to tell me that I was voted Best Female Chef in the World his first question was 'are you happy?' I was silent first, then I told him that I did not feel any sense of euphoria, I felt more a sense of responsibility. Working for 15 years in the remote countryside in Slovenia, far away from media, opinion makers, foodies, food suppliers and also from international food guides – to be able to work we needed to build a network of producers and farmers, insisting on a pure 0km approach, and on super original and local produce, but not for fashion or trends, simply because we needed basic ingredients to cook. The restaurant is located in a traditional local community and it is a family home, without any partners or investors. Intelligent planning is key: becasue you need to survive and at the same time be able to focus on creation and evolution.
Roš then moved on to deal with the inevitable topic of the sacrifices it takes to get to the top:
Yesterday Enrico Crippa asked me if I was going to cry now. No, I told him: women cry for different reasons. We live in constant conflict between our family and our professional career. When I work 18 hours in the kitchen I am not with my children, and when I'm with my children, my brigade, my clients and my restaurant miss me a lot. There's always someone missing me a lot. In the last year I realised that in the mad race to be successful and to survive I would still put my children in the first and only place.
The chef was also keen to share humorous anecdotes with the international audience:
My first official entry in the international community of chefs was at Cook It Raw in Poland. In three days, I was able to fail. I first missed my flight and then the press conference. I fell into the river fully dressed because the canoe overturned – all media looked at me, it was not funny. I was cutting the meat when a dog jumped on the table and bit me, we had to call a doctor. The next day I was cooking the last dinner with the other male chefs: they cooked berries and fruit, I a beetroot, yet a bee came and began to spin around my head, and this bee stung me and for the first time in my life I had a tremendous allergic reaction. But there was a good solution to the castastrophy, in the end my smoked beetroot dish was very good, I think, and that was like my entrance ticket to the world of male chefs.
Many media and people convey the false message that male chefs do not accept female chefs. I think that is wrong and they do accept us, especially when we show that we know how to cook, and I'm truly and deeply grateful for that. Today we celebrate the award and also the number of 69 Hiša Franko, the sexiest number in the world. This is why I chose the red dress: it says something ... it's not just men that are the sexiest chefs in the world, we women can compete!
She concluded with a dedication to her children.
This award goes to my fantastic children. They have been living in the kitchen, literally and they are growing up as fantastic human beings. Everything is possible: and this is probably the best message I can give.