Ana Sortun

Ana Sortun
Did you know?

Ana believes her travels to France, Spain, Italy and Turkey are a major influence in her cooking. When she visits other countries, she makes an effort to find “kitchen time” so that she can get an inside look at the how the food is prepped, cooked, and served.

Ana Sortun
Ana's Featured Recipe
Chicken and Walnut Pâté with Smoky Paprika

Click here for recipe

Ana Sortun is a restaurateur, chef, cookbook author and farmer’s wife whose specialty is eastern Mediterranean food, particularly the cusine of Turkey—with French influences. She owns Oleana, a Mediterranean-Middle Eastern restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as the Sofra Bakery and Café, also in Cambridge.


Ana’s book Spice: Flavors of the Easter Mediterranean was nominated as the Best Cookbook of the Year by the James Beard Association in 2006. In the same year, her husband Chris Kurth, bought a farm, which the couple christianed Siena Farms, named for their small daughter. 


Chris supplies Ana’s restaurant with the lion’s share of the organic produce the chef uses. When she married Chris, Ana joked that she had always told her mother she would marry a farmer, and now was proved right. She and Chris met when, as the vegetable grower for The Farm School in Athol, he called on Oleana to sell vegetables and establish an account. That particular appointment was a great success all around.


When Ana and Chris were married, Chris grew all the produce served at their wedding. He continues to supply the food that inspires much of his wife’s culinary creativity.


Ana grew up in Seattle and always had her eye on seeing the world. At the age of 19, after learning to speak French, she traveled to Paris to study at La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine, where she earned a Grand Diplome. She also was awarded a diploma for wine studies from L’Academie du Vin.


She returned to Seattle to work for Chef Tom Douglas at Café Sport before moving east to become executive chef at Aigo Bistro in Concord, Massachusetts. Ana went on to work at several Boston-area restaurants, inlcuding 8 Holyoke, where she was tapped as “rising star” by Esquire Magazine, and then at Casablanca, where her French-Mediterranean cuisine garnered a lot of attention.


In 2001, Ana opened Oleana and so far has never looked back. A few years later she opened Sofra Bakery and Café. In 2005, she won the James Beard Award for best chef in the Northeast.


She has been written up in major newspapers such as the Boston Globe and the New York Times and in magazines such as Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and Gourmet.


Ana and Chris live with their daughter Sienna on a farm outside Cambridge in Sudbury, Massachusetts.

Latest Recipes

Squash Kibbeh with Brown Butter and Spiced Feta

This version of kibbeh (Arabic) or kofte (Turkish) is simple to make. The kibbeh is baked and steamed, which gives it the consistency of ...

(1 Votes)

Middle Eastern Five-Spice

Many countries have a sweet spice mix like this Middle Eastern five-spice: the Chinese have a five-spice, the French have quatre epice, a...

(1 Votes)

Chicken and Walnut Pâté with Smoky Paprika

I call this creamy chicken salad recipe pate because it is similar in consistency to rillettes, which is a type of French pâté. Rillettes...

(1 Votes)

Tahini Sauce

I prefer the dark roasted variety of tahini from Tohum available at

(1 Votes)

Garlic and Almond Soup

There is a saying in Provence: “Aigo bouido sauva la vido,” which means “garlic soup saves lives.” It is true that garlic has immune-stim...

(1 Votes)

Grilled Mushroom Banderilla

Banderilla is Spanish for “little skewer.” and the grilled mushrooms make a perfect tapas or snack. The mushrooms are first marinated in ...

(1 Votes)

Crick-Cracks: Savory Turkish-Style Crackers

My friend Ayfer Unsal from Gaziantep, Turkey, introduced me to the savory treats she calls crick-cracks. Found in many different shapes-r...

(1 Votes)

Celery Root Skordalia

Traditionally, skordalia is a Greek potato and garlic puree that is served with just about anything-meats, vegetables, fish, and grilled ...

(1 Votes)

Whipped Feta with Sweet and Hot Peppers

At Oleana, we serve this addictive staple as a bread condiment, under the pret a manger section of our menu. We dish it up in a little cr...

(1 Votes)

Creamy Parsnip Hummus with Parsley

Hummus versions abound, but most-except for some Turkish recipes-are made with chickpeas and tahini. Hummus means “chickpea” in Arabic, a...

(1 Votes)

Beef Shish Kebobs with Sumac Onions and Parsley Butter

In Turkish, shish means skewer and kebob means grilled meat. This simple recipe introduces an addictive condiment for grilled meat: onion...

(1 Votes)

Hot Buttered Hummus with Basturma and Tomato

This recipe was inspired by my trip to Cappadocia, in the center of Turkey, where I saw the most incredible phallic natural rock formatio...

(1 Votes)

Flatbread with Za’atar

Francisco Betancourt is a fanner and father of four from Colombia who is the tireless backbone of Oleana’s kitchen. After he works at his...

(1 Votes)

Armenian Bean and Walnut Pâté

This recipe was inspired by my friend Armen Mehrabyan, who lives in Armenia, where he grows and harvests wild herbs that he makes into te...

(1 Votes)

Carrot Purée and Egyptian Spice Mix with Nuts and Olive Oil

I discovered this Egyptian spice mix called dukkab when I had the pleasure of working with Claudia Roden during a lecture she delivered o...

(1 Votes)

North African Chili Paste

Harissa is an North African condiment or chili paste that gives a little zip to a dish. It’s fun to use instead of cocktail sauce and is ...

(1 Votes)

Shoushan’s Homemade String Cheese With Nigella Seeds

Shoushan Stepanian is the sister of my good friend Vartan Nalbandian. She makes this string cheese for Oleana, and we serve it as a bread...

(1 Votes)

Moroccan Ras el Hannout

I think the best way to describe this spice mixture is Moroccan curry. Ras el bannout means “head of the shop,” and there are as many var...

(1 Votes)

Fried Haloumi Cheese with Pear and Spiced Dates

Haloumi is a sheep’s milk cheese from Cyprus. It’s brined like feta but it has a firm texture that is perfect for frying. There is no nee...

(1 Votes)

Sweet Potato Bisteeya

This is my version of bisteeya, inspired by the classic sweet/savory Moroccan pie made with chicken or squab, saffron, cinnamon, sugar, a...

(1 Votes)
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