Athlete
Click to learn about the athlete
Athlete
athlete
athlete
athlete
athlete
athlete
athlete
athlete
athlete

She would wake up at 5 a.m. on a weekday for school, then practice, before heading to the classroom.

Listening to her describe the lifestyle of a young skier, trying to combine studying with practice and competition, it sounds remarkably like the gruelling hours in a kitchen. On the weekend, it was up at 2 a.m. for a 6:30 a.m. arrival at the mountain, with only one month off a year. Perhaps the only difference between skiing and cooking is the temperature; it's hot in a kitchen, but minus-20 on the mountain.

"It's a really tough sport, especially for girls in those times, when the organization was a little bit different. You must be really motivated; you must be super disciplined."

Despite making it to the top group in the (at that time) Yugoslavia national ski team, Roš told CNN that she never found it much fun. She quit, suddenly, at the age of 18.

Chef
Click to learn about the chef
Chef
chef
chef
chef
chef
chef
chef
chef
chef

In sport, as in life, there are no do-overs. When the whistle blows or when the gun goes -- it's time to deliver.

Ana Roš is one of the world's top chefs and she thinks about that often. Previously a top skier, she has never forgotten the intensity of competition.

"I'd talk to the starter. Sometimes I'd say, 'No, no; wait a second. I'm not ready yet.' And he was like '5-4-3-2!' Aargh!"

Talking to CNN from Hiša Franko, her award-winning restaurant in Slovenia, you can sense her reliving those nerve-jangling moments. "But the countdown means you have to go and it's exactly what I'm facing in my professional life. There's always a countdown and you need to be ready at the right moment."

Roš is one of the most remarkable success stories in the culinary world. Having inherited the restaurant with her partner and husband Valter, she was plunged in at the deep end, as head chef, without any formal training or culinary experience to call on. Given the situation, she remembers thinking her chance of success was about the same as growing up in Africa and starting to ski at the age of 35: "You'd die of laughter because it doesn't work!"

Now, though, her business is regarded as one of the finest dining locations in the world and Roš is celebrated as one of the best at her craft. Hiša Franko has been named in the coveted '50 Best' list and in 2017 she was named as the best female chef. Roš credits her background in sport to the success in her life.

Life lessons
Life lesson one
Risk and reward

Skiing down a mountain can be a dangerous business — it's a sport of risk and reward.

So, too, is the life of a professional chef, certainly one who aspires to be among the best in the world. When Roš was profiled on the 2017 Netflix show 'Chef's Table,' she spoke of all the mistakes that she'd made and how the customers suffered because of them.
Expanding on what is a delicate balancing act, she told CNN:

"In a race, you're always at risk of failure. Look at the best downhill racers; they are all without limits."

As a chef combining flavors, she says "there is always a possibility of failure. But if you don't take risks, then you're just average. The possibility of failure makes you stronger. Only walking on the edge is what it takes to be an exceptional chef. Failure is the engine of success."

Life lesson two
Never satisfied

Clearly, Roš is driven and, just like the world's top athletes, never satisfied.

Despite remarkable success and worldwide fame, she is still striving for perfection. Asked what has been the most rewarding experience of her life, she replied, "It hasn't come yet. I'm constantly in search of what I really want. I still haven't reached what I really think should be my life motif. I think the best is yet to come."

Based on her seasons as a skier, she has every reason to think her best days are still to come. "I lived in a remote place where the ski club didn't have so much money. We were probably on a much lower budget than other skiers around us. In the second part of the season, I'd win races that I wouldn't have even thought of winning at the start.

”If you observe my cooking career, it's actually like a copy and paste. A struggle at the start, but every year it's getting better."

Life lesson three
Creativity

Clearly, Roš' determination has carried her a long way in the kitchen, but motivation would be nothing without creativity.

As a young athlete, she was also a dancer and she can see artistic expression everywhere in the world of sport.

”Look at America's [Mikaela] Shiffrin, the way she is in a slalom race; is that not pure art? Look at the beauty of her skiing; her technique is so perfect that it becomes like a dance."

Life lesson four
Self-taught chef

Roš didn't just learn to be a chef the hard way; she learned her own way.

No training or Michelin star chefs locally to be inspired by, just the interminable grind of trial and error. The conversation turns to the notion of being self-taught and athletes who have done it alone. The American golfer Bubba Watson has excelled at a highly technical sport, despite apparently having never taken a lesson; evidently, he never needed one; he's a two-time Masters champion.

"You must understand those self-taught people are going to be very different,"

she explains, "because their technique will be incomprehensible to others. If you're intelligent and if you have enough talent, you can probably bypass others in a way that nobody would have expected you to."

The difficult, metaphorical piste that Roš has been traversing is the very course that has made her so special as a chef.

Life lesson five
Leadership

Roš spent the lockdown together with her family and around 30 people from the restaurant, focusing on schoolwork in the mornings and foraging for wild foods after lunch.

Roš calls the experience unforgettable, a roller coaster of emotion. In sport as in life, setbacks can appear out of nowhere. The coronavirus hit the global restaurant business hard and the Soča Valley couldn't escape the impact of the lockdown. Roš found herself trying to help the local farmers, designing creative ways to utilize the milk and lamb, which would otherwise have gone to waste.

"That's maybe the toughest experience of my life. Because in the beginning, it looks somehow fun. Sooner or later, you understand that this is like being the captain on a boat that is sinking." She told CNN that's when her leadership skills came to the fore.

Life lesson six
The art of conversation

Before she fell into the restaurant business, Roš was planning for a career as a diplomat. It's clear how much she enjoys the art of conversation as she recalls how dull guests can ruin a potentially wonderful evening.

Choosing her words carefully, so as not to expose the source of her angst, she described her excitement at dressing up for dinner with a European prince, before her anticipation was quickly dampened. "The evening was so boring. Every other table probably would have been better. When you have a group of people around you, you want [to be sat with] people who have something to say."

Dream dinner party
Tap on a guest for details

Luka Dončić

Slovenian Dallas Mavericks 6-foot 7-inch star

Usain Bolt

Olympic great

Aleksander Čeferin

Slovenian UEFA president

Eva Klara Roš

National 2000m champion and Ana Roš’ daughter

Svit Roš

400m runner and Ana Roš’ son

Lindsay Vonn

Former Alpine ski racer

Luka Dončić |

Slovenian Dallas Mavericks 6-foot 7-inch star

Usain Bolt |

Olympic great

Aleksander Čeferin |

Slovenian UEFA president

Eva Klara Roš |

National 2000m champion and Ana Roš’ daughter

Svit Roš |

400m runner and Ana Roš’ son

Lindsay Vonn |

Former Alpine ski racer

The menu
Main course
English style
roast beef

Ingredients

  • 1kg aged beef sirloin
  • 2-3 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • lemon juice (of one lemon)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • seasonal vegetables for the salad

Method

English style roast beef with salad, wild herbs and flowers (gluten free)

Clean the meat of any muscle and hard fat pieces. Spread mustard on it, fresh rosemary and sliced garlic. Leave it to rest in the marinade for 24 hours.

Put the meat in a big pan with some heated oil. Roast the meat on all sides so it’s a nice, dark brown color. Take the meat off the pan to cool.

Serve the meat cold and thinly sliced. Add pepper, salt, olive oil and fresh lemon juice to the slices. Serve with a salad and fresh seasonal vegetables.

Side dish
T’minska frika

Ingredients

  • 200g potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon pancetta
  • 100g one-year aged cheese
  • 20g two months aged cheese
  • 1 teaspoon herb mixture (oregano, tarragon, thyme and lovage)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method

Frico with potatoes, cheese and aromatic herbs (gluten free and vegetarian)

Peel and wash the potatoes. Grate them and place on parchment paper. Put in the oven for eight minutes (100% steam). Let the potatoes cool. Grate all the cheese.

Fry the pancetta in a heated pan with oil. Add the potatoes and half of the cheese. When the cheese melts, flip all together like an omelette with the help of a large lid or cover. Add the rest of the cheese. Cook all together for another 10-15 minutes. It should be golden brown on both sides when ready.

Sprinkle the herbs on top at the end. For the vegetarian version just skip the pancetta.

Dessert
Kobariski struklji

Ingredients

  • 70g breadcrumbs
  • 200g ground walnuts
  • 5g cocoa powder
  • lemon peel (of one lemon)
  • 1 small caffe lungo
  • 10g raisins
  • 0,03L rum
  • 40g sugar
  • 3g cinnamon
  • 0.5L milk
  • 500g flour
  • 0.4L water
  • 15g butter
  • salt

Method

A typical Caporetto dessert stuffed with dried and shell fruits

Filling
Toast the bread crumbs in butter. Pour hot milk over the ground walnuts, and add the cocoa powder, lemon peel, coffee powder, raisins soaked in rum, sugar and cinnamon. Mix all the ingredients and form into small sausage shapes.

Dough
Put the flour in a bowl and pour salty boiling water over it, mix with a spoon first, then with your hands into a dough. Make small circle-shaped pieces and place the filling on top. Flour your hands so you can fold them over and press them on the top with your finger to get the classic shape. Cook them in very hot water — which must not boil — for about 10 minutes, or until they float. Shake the pot every couple of minutes while boiling.

Serve with toasted bread crumbs in butter, sugar and cinnamon.