Ana Ro of Hia Franko in Kobarid, Slovenia, has been named The World’s Best Female Chef 2017. She will be presented with the award at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne on 5 April.

A self-taught chef, Ro is influenced by the cuisines of Slovenia’s neighbouring countries – Italy, Hungary, Austria and Croatia. At Hia Franko, Ro draws inspiration from Slovenia’s culinary heritage and ingredients, adding twists to traditional dishes. Housed in an historic 1860 building, Hia Franko is a family business with Ro working alongside her sommelier husband, Valter. Situated in Slovenia’s Soca Valley, only three kilometres from the Italian border, Ro sources ingredients from local producers.

“Ana Ro is a very worthy recipient of this year’s World’s Best Female Chef honour. Her precision, attention to detail and imagination distinguish her as a true leader in global gastronomy. Her passion for local ingredients, her investment in people and her commitment to elevating the culinary arts in her native Slovenia make her an inspirational role model,” said William Drew, group editor of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

The 44 year old chef has travelled to India to mentor underprivileged girls, taught recovering addicts how to cook and hosts an annual event for local children in her kitchen to demonstrate the simple pleasures of baking bread. Her participation in global culinary events has raised her profile, which was further boosted in Netflix series, Chef’s Table.

“The award came as a surprise to me. It is a big responsibility to accept this award, especially as a self-taught cook, but the recognition provides an opportunity for people to reassess Slovenia as an interesting gastronomic destination,” said Ro.

Previous winners include Dominique Crenn in 2016, as well as Hlne Darroze (2015), Helena Rizzo (2014), Elena Arzak (2013), Nadia Santini (2012) and Anne-Sophie Pic (2011). 

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