Cited as one of the country’s “best creative fusion practitioners,” by The New York Times, Seattle-born Ana Sortun graduated from La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine de Paris before opening Moncef Medeb’s Aigo Bistro in Concord, Massachusetts, in the early 1990s. Following stints at 8 Holyoke and Casablanca in Harvard Square, she opened Oleana in 2001, immediately drawing raves for dishes that The New York Times described as “rustic-traditional and deeply inventive.” Awarded the “Best Chef: Northeast” honor by the James Beard Foundation in 2005, Sortun published her first cookbook, SPICE: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean, in 2006; it has become a bestseller.
In 2008, Sortun and business partner Maura Kilpatrick opened Sofra Bakery. They envisioned an informal Middle Eastern café and retail store, which would feature Kilpatrick’s pastries, savory selections, house-made pantry delicacies, and carefully selected artisan products from around the world.
A strong advocate for healthy cooking, Sortun released a product called Chef Sets, in partnership with Set Point Health, in Newton. Chef Sets are boxed meal sets, featuring aromatic spices & grain packs and allow customers to prepare Sortun’s inspired dishes with ease, from the comfort of their home kitchens. Chef Sets are available for purchase at Sofra Bakery.
In the autumn of 2013, Sortun partnered with her long-time Chef de Cuisine, Cassie Piuma, in opening Sarma, a traditional Meyhane (Turkish tavern-style) restaurant and bar in Somerville, which features an entire menu of Meze, or ‘small plates.’
Throughout her culinary career, Sortun has demonstrated a strong commitment to high-quality, local, fresh produce. Her husband, Chris Kurth, owns a farm in the Sudbury River Valley, just outside Boston. Siena Farms provides fresh produce to all three Oleana Restaurant Group locations, and is named after the couple’s daughter.