Self-taught Slovenian chef Ana Roš's highly unusual path to the professional kitchen is set out in the biographical section of this fascinating and visually stunning book. Roš initially trained as a professional dancer and was part of the Yugoslav national ski team before studying international science and diplomacy.
However, Roš's plans for a career in international diplomacy were set aside when she met her future husband, natural wine expert Valter Kramar. The couple worked in Kramar's family's countryside restaurant, Hiša Franko in the remote Soča Valley, where Roš eventually took charge of the kitchen. International acclaim followed, with Roš being featured on Netflix's Chef's Table documentary series.
Roš's lack of formal culinary training has led to a highly individual style based on the abundant natural larder of the extreme north-west of Slovenia. A community of local foragers, shepherds, cheesemakers, hunters and fishermen (some are profiled in the book) supply Roš with trout, deer, goats, dairy produce and fruits, which she transforms into eye-catching dishes such as marble trout roe with Rosa di Gorizia chicory and yeast; veal consommé, celeriac and young linden leaves; and beeswax, peaches and elderflower.
The majestic natural glory of the Soča Valley is well-represented in the photography of Suzan Gabrijan, who also captures the rugged elegance of Roš's food. Disappointingly, however, apart from two photographs taken in the kitchen, there are no shots of the restaurant interior or exterior, which is a puzzling and frustrating omission. More frustratingly, the recipes are hived off into a separate chapter at the end of the book, so readers must flick back and forth to the images of the finished dishes to understand the process fully.
These minor criticisms aside, Sun and Rain is a comprehensive look at the life, culinary philosophy and cooking of a remarkable figure in the modern culinary scene that will inspire any progressive-thinking chef.
Sun and Rain, by Ana Roš (£39.95, Phaidon)
You need to create an account to read this article. It's free and only requires a few basic details.
Already subscribed? Log In