A Hiša Franko dish shot by Suzan Gabrijan
InnovationIssue 1 2021Quick Read

Eating The Landscape

Sitting pretty in the Soča region of Slovenia, Hiša Franko, the renowned fine-dining restaurant run by chef Ana Roš and her husband Valter Kramar, was awarded two Michelin stars in 2020. Having spent the last 20 years transforming the menu from the traditional Slovenian fare that Valter’s parents previously served to the exquisite dishes found today, it comes as no surprise.

After being confined to our homes during lockdowns all around the world, and in a bid to stimulate ailing economies, a new awareness of buying and supporting locally has emerged, stronger than ever before. And we can look to Ana and Valter as experts in building a business based on its locality.

Hiša Franko can be found up a winding mountain road an hour from the nearest town. Running alongside it is a turquoise creek, home to a school of trout; behind the house is a herb, flower and vegetable garden, and beyond it are the mountainside forests. In their remote location, sourcing locally was a necessity, which over time has become their greatest asset.

Miha Rustja foraging for Hiša Franko. Photography by Benjamin Shmuck
A layout from 'Sun and Rain' cookbook by Ana Roš. Photography by Suzan Gabrijan

Their seasonal menu is based more on the weather than the seasons as what can be foraged is completely different depending on recent sun or rains. On the staff at Hiša Franko is a dedicated forager, Miha Rustja, who picks wild produce such as sorrel, watercress, elderflower, wild garlic, strawberries, mushrooms, chestnuts and Jerusalem artichokes from the surrounding forests, meadows and swamps to be used in the restaurant. A herbalist provides homemade teas designed for a different time of day or mood, and Valter keeps a store of Slovenian natural wines in vivid colours and ageing local Tolminc cheese in the cellar. For everything else, they work with a wide network of local farmers, growers, fishers and beekeepers.

Hiša Franko’s seasonal menu is based more on the weather than the seasons.

A layout from 'Sun and Rain' cookbook by Ana Roš. Photography by Suzan Gabrijan

I know that those who choose the natural path have a completely different approach to land and nature conservation.

‒ Valter Kramar

Miha Rustja foraging for Hiša Franko. Photography by Benjamin Shmuck

“I know that those who choose the natural path have a completely different approach to land and nature conservation. Their hearts beat a different rhythm, a rhythm that is not attuned to the sound of money,” Valter says. Through experimenting with what’s available to them locally, the team at Hiša Franko has unearthed forgotten produce and gourmet traditions of the area and made a difficult-to-get-to destination a must-visit.

Read more about Ana’s culinary journey and leadership style in our story ‘A Modern Look at Leadership’.

Photography by Benjamin Schmuck and Suzan Gabrijan

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