2019 James Beard Foundation Award Winner for “Outstanding Chef”
Since making Raleigh her home, Ashley Christensen has sought to foster community through food, philanthropy and the stimulation of the city’s downtown neighborhood.
Ashley began cooking while in college, throwing dinner parties for her friends and family. These intimate gatherings helped her recognize her passion for cooking and sharing food, and ultimately led to her first professional cooking job at the age of 21. Upon taking the position, she knew she had found her life’s work.
When she’s not in the kitchen, Christensen focuses her time on a number of local and regional charities. She has served as a board member of the Frankie Lemmon foundation and is a co-chair of its annual fundraising event, Triangle Wine Experience. She has also served on the board of Raleigh’s Contemporary Art Museum and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. She is an active member of the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) and founded the biannual event Stir the Pot, in which she hosts visiting chefs in Raleigh to raise funds for the SFA’s documentary initiatives.
Christensen’s accolades include:
- In 2007, opened Poole’s Diner, which takes its name and décor from the building’s original tenant—one of downtown Raleigh’s first restaurants
- In 2011, opened three new ventures (Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Chuck’s and Fox Liquor Bar), all housed in a corner building once occupied by a Piggly Wiggly
- In the spring of 2015, introduced Death & Taxes, a restaurant celebrating wood-fire cooking with Southern ingredients, and Bridge Club, a private events loft and cooking classroom.
- In 2016, Christensen’s cookbook, Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner was published and named one of the top cookbooks of the fall by the New York Times
- In the fall of 2019, opened Poole’side Pies, featuring Christensen’s take on Neapolitan-style pizza
Christensen’s awards include:
- 2019 James Beard Foundation Award Winner for “Outstanding Chef”
- 2017 “Chef of the Year” by Eater.com
- 2016 James Beard Foundation Award Finalist for “Best New Restaurant” for Death and Taxes
- 2016 Food & Wine’s one the “Best New Restaurants of the Year” for Death and Taxes
- 2014 James Beard Foundation Award Winner for “Best Chef: Southeast”
Christensen’s work has gained national attention from such publications as:
- Bon Appétit, Gourmet
- The New York Times
- Southern Living
- Wall Street Journal
- Garden & Gun
- Virtual Cooking Classes
- Private Events
- Speaking Engagements
- Restaurant Buyouts
- Cooking Demos
- Recipe Development