This is the second installment in a two-part interview with chef Ana Ros. You can find the first installment here.
You are self-taught, so does that make you more receptive to participating in such events?
I think when you are self-taught you become a little bit unique and are less prone to being influenced by someone. I think that is beautiful in a way as you develop your own techniques. I started cooking very late in life as compared to other chefs who start at a very early age. Since I was more mature [than some of my younger colleagues], my approach was very different since at that age you already have your vision and your philosophy. You also don't have the time to slip up and have to be very quick while being independent and working with your own philosophy.
When you travel around the world are people curious about where you come from because Slovenia does not instantly connect with the world of haute cuisine for most people?
It's almost like being an exotic animal as there is that similar curiosity. There is also surprise, questions, and even skepticism about Slovenia as a gastronomic destination and if the cuisine can be that good. Sometimes that means that I have to prove to cook well, not only because I am a woman but because of where I come from.
Do you think women in kitchens around the world need to take a stand or speak up for themselves?
While we have to fight to be better and prove ourselves, we also have to be fair. In a world where there is male domination you have to work to stand out and be recognized. It is very much a men's club but we can break in by proving how good we can be at our job. It's all changing very rapidly; now head chefs in some of the most important kitchens in the world are women. It's just a question of time now for that distinction to disappear.
You are multi-lingual, a former athlete, well-educated, a successful businesswoman, and an international celebrity, but are you representative of women in your country?
I am special and different in a way because I am a chef, I speak many languages and I have ventured into this business because I need to survive, and it's as simple as that. I am not typical of other women as I have chosen to make this life in the countryside and when a woman chooses to do more in any field, like politics, fashion, etc. it sets her apart. In my case I am a Slovenian woman who has chosen to be chef attempting to build a better gastronomic environment in my country, something not yet existent.
What fires your creative engines? Do you have off days, and how do you deal with them?
There are days when I feel I need to step away and take time off. It is easier to work when you are more relaxed and there are always little signals that prompt you to take that time away. Sometimes just a half hour break to relax and oxygenate will do it for me and I come back to work with a new perspective.
Had you visited Chile prior to the Gelinaz event or tasted Rodolfo Guzman's cuisine?
No I had never been there, but we had done three events together before and I was somewhat familiar with his style. We had collaborated on a few dishes before and I knew he was very conceptual and also that his kitchen was very different.
Since he was at Mugaritz with Andoni Aduriz for a while, did he take those sensibilities to his Boragó kitchen in Santiago?
Yes that is true.
How far ahead did you plan the menu or choose your products?
I actually did everything after arriving there. I was completely open to what I would be able to get there. I did try to find out what products would be available at that time but I didn't hear back before leaving so I decided I will deal with it when I got there. There was only one dish that was an interpretation of something I do at home but everything else I did was unique to Chile.
Were you in touch with Guzman or Colagreco, who was in your kitchen during your time in Chile?
Not really, and I actually did not ask Rudolfo anything but did update him with good news about what was happening at the Shuffle dinner in the kitchen. I didn't want to become him, I wanted to be me, and only the product was different for me.
Did you carry any products or take any team members from your kitchen?
Nothing! Not even my knives and I went by myself and without a man [laughs]. I did take my chef jacket with me.