Allow our Chef to introduce you to her unique take on local cuisine
The highly talented, experienced and charming Ana Grgić already in her sixth year continues her role as executive chef of the prestigious Zagreb Esplanade Hotel. In 2012 Ana proudly became the very first woman to lead the Esplanade’s kitchen and went on to follow the tradition of crafting exceptional cuisine, placing her specific culinary touch within all her dishes.
Ambitious flair, exceptional talent and bundles of creativity have led Ana to the most prestigious global gourmet restaurants with two Michelin stars. Here she spent valuable time perfecting her culinary skills under the leadership of famous chefs, such as Yves Mattagne at the Sea Grill Restaurant in Brussels and Christian Lohse from the acclaimed Fisher’s Fritz in Berlin. Ana’s knowledge and expertise was also developed at the culinary academy of the Rezidor Hotel Group.
Ana continues to drive her passion and perfect her culinary talent working alongside a number of award-winning chefs as guests at the hotel, such as Xavier Mathieu and Pascal Tingaud. In cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Ana had an amazing opportunity to prepare Korean dishes with the President of the Korean Food Institute and the leading chef of the Royal cuisine in Korea, Sook-JA JOON. Ana used this wonderful and insightful experience to introduce the new Korean menu to Le Bistro Restaurant.
In 2015 Zinfandel’s restaurant found itself within a unique selection of 1000 top global restaurants. They united on the very same evening in 150 countries, over five continents to celebrate French gastronomy as part of the Good France global project. For this joyous occasion Ana delightfully crafted a special menu. That same year, Ana received an invitation from the President of the Republic of Croatian, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović to take part in preparing a gala dinner entitled Croatia on the plate, Slovenia in the glass, which was held in the presidential palace for numerous world leaders such as US Vice President Joe Biden. Once again, Ana returned to the presidential palace creating a gala dinner for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall together with numerous guests, and again during the visit of the President of Turkey in Croatia.
During Ana’s career at the Esplanade she has prepared outstanding meals for numerous state officials such as Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, Austrian President Heinz Fischer and royalty such as Prince Albert of Monaco, Princess Anne, the King and Queen of Sweden, the Japanese Prince and Princess, the royal family of Denmark and the Prince of Saudi Arabia. The endless list continues featuring celebrities and sporting legends including Pep Guardiola, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, and those from the world of show business: Enrique Iglesias, Shakira, Sade, Sting, José Carreras, Bob Geldof, Bono Vox, Robbie Williams and many others.
Creatively leading as executive chef of the Esplanade Hotel, Ana has received numerous awards for competence, excellence and style of cooking. In 2015 she became the ambassador of the Fish Forward project, an initiative of the World Wildlife Fund, which aims to increase consumer awareness of global environmental and social consequences of the consumption of products from fisheries.
Between 2012 and 2016 Zinfandel’s Restaurant and Le Bistro, gained various awards – where Ana’s supreme menus and creative cuisine certainly have not been unnoticed. Certificates of excellence were awarded by the world’s largest tourist service which evaluates the quality of services in tourism – TripAdvisor. In 2015 Zinfandel’s received a special award and was proudly positioned in the Hall of Fame. In 2013, Ana’s superb risotto featured in the prestigious guide Guida Gallo – among the 101 world’s best risottos. The young Ana Grgić prepared her risotto to the warm delight of the Riso Gallo board members thus Zinfandel’s found itself once again on the pages of this prestigious guide – the third consecutive time.
Confirmation of this was recently best illustrated upon Prince Charles and the Duchess of Corwall’s visit to Croatia. The royal couple actually requested their personal chef to ask Ana for the specific recipe of her very own risotto. Ana not only shares her inspirational dishes but notably her cheerful personality and sincerity. In 2013 she was nominated for Woman of the Year by Zaposlena magazine, in 2014 the daily newspaper Večernji list nominated Ana for Person of the Year, and equally in 2016 the prestigious magazine Storybook nominated Ana for the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award.
In 2016, the production board of MasterChef Croatia and the Nova TV channel approached Ana asking her to become the first female jury member of the special Celebrity MasterChef series. From show to show, Ana closely followed every move in the kitchen the cooking celebrities made. Satisfied how the series positively developed during filming, she concluded this warm valuable experience will help in her further progression as chef de cuisine of the Esplanade.
Ana drives an extensive culinary operation that combines work in the kitchen and creating concepts for several outlets. From the luxury Zinfandel’s Restaurant with the Oleander Terrace, the charming French Le Bistro to providing menus for room service, the Esplanade Bar and Esplanade catering which includes crafting innovative cuisine for events, conferences and wedding receptions.
Almost daily Ana manages to conjure up new promotional menus with seasonal ingredients, fabulous personalized menus for customers and successfully keeping newlyweds impressed exceeding their expectations. Each season Ana carefully creates – à la carte menus, which pose their own set of challenges. Fundamentally it is striking a distinctive style, then using local and currently available fresh ingredients – and then from that magically create something that will provide guests with a truly unique experience of taste and smell.
Ana’s style of food preparation can be characterized as a combination of Mediterranean and Continental classic dishes, prepared in a modern style. Ana occasionally plays with molecular gastronomy, which often creates delightfully unusual combinations of flavours pleasing to the eye and palate. Ana monitors global gastronomy trends and strives to introduce them into her creations. Special attention is paid to the selection of top quality fresh local ingredients, and food presentation – ensuring each and every dish placed in front guests represents a unique work of art.