Get to know Chef Ana Sortun from Oleana restaurant in this week's TL&CC Q&A

31 October 2019

Find out what makes Ana Sortun, chef and co-owner of Cambridge, Massachusetts restaurant Oleana tick. Ana is a partner at Sofra Bakery, Oleana and Sarma restaurants. Her husband, Chris Kurth, owns and operates Siena Farms, an organic vegetable farm.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Sailing.

What is the purest thing you have ever tasted? The perfect peach, strawberry or pear in season.

What is the best thing you can do with your hands? Toss a salad.

What was your first experience with sustainable eating? The Ark restaurant on the Washington State coast in 1993.

What do you love most about what you do? I get to cook for so many different kinds of people.

What do you consider the most overrated ingredient? Sugar.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever been taught? How to finely mince a clove of garlic with the back of a knife.

Is there anything you don’t particularly care to eat? Caraway.

When was the last time you ate out, and where? A few nights ago at Uni in Boston – one of my favourite Boston restaurants.

Are there any mentors or food heroes you would like to thank? Alice Waters and Musa Dagdeviren.

What are your favourite books or cookbooks? On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen by Jeremy Fox, and Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts by Aglaia Kremezi.

What is the dish on your own menu that most engages you? Quail kebob.

What do you make from scratch? Most everything.

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing what you are doing? Designing, whether it be clothes or houses or space.

How do you like to spend your day off? Hanging with my family or cooking or seeing a great movie.

What does success mean to you? Balance.

What is your current obsession, the thing you think about at 3am? Staff.

What are the qualities you most admire in others? Positive attitude and patience.

Can you tell us something we don’t know about you? I can’t make pasta very well.

Which three words best describe your cooking style? Rich but not heavy, spiced, eastern Mediterranean.

If you could eat only one thing today, what would it be? A great veggie burger.

What do you see when you think of the cuisine of your own country? Diversity.

Which producer or supplier really brightens your day? My husband and his delicious veggies.

Which talent would you most like to have? Dance.

What do you think the food of the future will look like? Less meat.

Do you have a motto or mantra? Stay grounded and focus.

What is your number one sustainability tip or trick? Buy local when possible.

Chef Ana Sortun, OleanaChef Ana Sortun, Oleana

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