Rather than beginning her career in the kitchen, the first step that Ana Sortun took on her path towards chef-dom was to enroll in L'Ecole Francaise in her hometown Seattle at the age of 17. After receiving her fluency degree in French two years later, Ana moved to Paris, where she attended the La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine culinary school and worked as a stagiare.
In her memoir, Eating My Words, food writer Mimi Sheraton included Ana Sortun as one of the country’s “best creative fusion practitioners,” describing the chef’s food as “inspired and inspiring.” Sortun has gained acclaim at her Boston restaurant Oleana for a fusion that few other American chefs have made their own – Arabic Mediterranean, with a focus on Turkey.
Rather than beginning her career in the kitchen, the first step that Sortun took on her path towards a culinary career was to enroll in L'Ecole Francaise in her hometown Seattle at the age of 17. After receiving her fluency degree in French two years later, Ana moved to Paris, where she attended the La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine, and worked as a stagiaire. Ana credits her travels abroad as a major influence in her cooking – she apprenticed at the 2-star Michelin rated Neichel Restaurant in Barcelona, Spain a well as spent time in top kitchens in Turkey, Italy and France.
Upon her return to the US in the early 1990s, Sortun opened Moncef Medeb’s Aigo Bistro in Concord, Massachusetts. Stints at 8 Holyoke and Casablanca in Harvard Square, Cambridge, and a slew of national press attention, soon followed. When Sortun opened Oleana in 2001, she quickly drew raves for her creative combination of farm-fresh ingredients and eastern Mediterranean spice blends.
Sortun received the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef Northeast” awards in 2005, and Oleana has been named one of the "Best New Restaurants in America" by Esquire Magazine and "Restaurant of the Year" by The Boston Phoenix. Sortun’s cookbook, SPICE; Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean, was published in 2006 and was nominated for best international cookbook in 2007 by the James Beard Foundation. 2006 also brought the addition of Siena Farm, owned and farmed by Chef Sortun’s husband, Chris Kurth. The farm, named after their daughter Siena, provides the restaurant all of its fresh, organic produce.
In late June, 2008 Chef Sortun and Pastry Chef Maura Kilpatrick open Sofra, a Middle Eastern café and bakery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.