If you don’t know Ashton Keefe, you are MISSING OUT. A classically-trained chef who is passionate about all things food, she has spent years cooking, baking, teaching and inspiring people with her love of the culinary arts. Throughout her career she has worked with some of the most recognized chef-personalities in the world, Giada De Laurentiis, Guy Fieri and Curtis Stone to name a few.
I am personally lucky to count Ashton as a friend who came to me years ago as the editor of ThirstyGirl.com. Now I couldn’t be happier to announce the launch of her first cookbook, LEMON & SALT: A MODERN GIRL’S GUIDE TO CULINARY REVELRY. In honor of this incredible achievement, we sat down with her to ask a few questions about her life, her new book and her love of food and drink.
When did you decide that food and wine were going to be your passion?
There wasn’t a particular moment, it felt like it was always just going to be the plan. My family was big into food and I worked in the catering world throughout high school and college. The decision to become a chef vs. being in hospitality took some thought – but again, not much. I’m a big believer that if you don’t have a Plan B, you won’t use it.
What was the inspiration for your cookbook?
The inspiration came from a pretty funny reason – I was tired of being everyone’s “chef” friend. I was noticing that not only my friends, but women in my classes loved great food but were intimidated or simply not cooking at home. When I think back to the “why” I got into food it was because of those meals at home, simple home cooking and entertaining. I wanted to teach that type of cuisine to a generation only used to eating out!
Do you pick the wine or the food first when planning a menu with friends?
I’d love to say one or the other but I think it depends on the friends. It sounds funny! In my mind the most important part of entertaining is serving what your guests want, even if it doesn’t technically pair well with what you’re serving. Any type of beverage that you want to drink with the meal is the drink that pairs best. It just is! When I cook at home for me, it often depends on what season it is. During the summer I gravitate towards lighter reds, rosés and whites to pair with grilled meats or vegetable forwards entrees. During the winter, I crave warm comforting and big reds. To keep me warm, obviously.
Best advice you could give someone picking up your cookbook for the first time with no culinary experience?
In short … YOU CAN DO IT! Even if you make mistakes, there is always wine. Here are my tips for culinary revelry. http://www.ashtonkeefe.com/blog/the-countdown-begins-1-week-until-lemon-salt
What’s your go-to drink when you hit the bar?
That’s like asking what’s my favorite food! I did train at the Leslie Sbrocco school of wine and beverages, so you can never go wrong with pink, bubbles or … pink bubbles. I also love a really cold beer and a great burger.
Want to get your copy of LEMON & SALT: A MODERN GIRL’S GUIDE TO CULINARY REVELRY?
Celebrated New York based chef and culinary instructor Ashton Keefe identifies and solves the problem: why aren’t millennial females foodies cooking? Tired of being everyone’s chef friend, Ashton found her girlfriends and students were talking, writing, blogging and eating food – but not cooking. Why weren’t they cooking? This isn’t your grandmother’s cookbook.
Ashton teaches simple techniques used by chefs in home kitchens to help a generation of girls define their everyday celebrations (brunch, date night, tailgating) in a use-what-you-have mentality. Simple, well-prepared food is delicious because of two things: acid and salt. That’s all you need. That, and maybe a glass of wine.
50+ approachable recipes with minimal ingredients and equipment with pictures for each recipe. This book is durable enough to handle heavy use in the kitchen but pretty enough for a coffee table.
“Ashton Keefe’s recipes are not only delicious but super fun and accessible for any aspiring culinary enthusiast. “Lemon & Salt” is sure to become a kitchen staple for many!” – Lauren Bush Lauren, Found and CEO of FEED Projects