How Ana Ros, One of the World’s Best Chefs, Put Slovenia on the Culinary Map

In her first days on the job, Ms. Ros dreamed of transforming Hisa Franko into a travel destination. She wanted people from surrounding cities to visit for a taste of local ingredients and intense flavors.

She had no skills at that time to execute her vision but had natural instincts. “The way a painter sees colors, I see flavors,” she said. Ms. Ros is now known for applying world-class techniques to local ingredients — trout from the Soca River, cheese aged in the cellar, porcini from the forest nearby. She doesn’t do signature dishes; everything is seasonal.

Last year, she opened Pekarna Ana, a bakery in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, and in February, she opened a pop-up bistro in that city called Ana in Slon. The first permanent location of the bistro will open in Ljubljana this fall.

The prime minister of Slovenia, Robert Golob, who has known Ms. Ros since 2012, considers himself a fan. “Hisa Franko is an ambassador of our country as a culinary destination,” he wrote in an email.

But in her career, Ms. Ros described facing added scrutiny because of her gender. People in the industry have often called her a “marketing story,” she said, assuming she didn’t have the talent to justify her success. During visits to her restaurant, where a multicourse tasting menu costs 255 euros ($280), colleagues were sometimes surprised by the quality of the food. “Why are you surprised?” she said. “Of course, they think Hisa Franko is where it is, and I am where I am, because I’m a woman.”

Ms. Ros took a circuitous path to the kitchen. Growing up in the 1980s in Tolmin, a short drive from Hisa Franko, she was a competitive skier on the Yugoslavian national youth team from about age 10 to 17. She was also once a dancer and was a diligent student. After an injury, she decided to forgo her athletic career and study international relations at the University of Trieste in Italy, with plans to become a diplomat. She speaks seven languages, including Italian, English and French.

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