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    THE HOT SEAT: Ashley Christensen of AC Restaurants

    THE HOT SEAT: Ashley Christensen of AC Restaurants

    Ashley Christensen is that rare combo of a “people’s chef” and a “chef’s chef,” a consummate professional utilizing French and the occasional modernist technique to reinterpret the Southern classics she grew up on in North Carolina. With the opening of Poole’s Diner in 2007, she helped fuel a Raleigh, N.C. food scene, and while that flagship restaurant is still cooking on all burners, her reach has expanded through a growing number of restaurants, as well as accolades, including the James Beard Award for the Best Chef in America in 2019. Still, eat at any of her restaurants, and there isn’t the sense of the larger national conversation -- instead, Christensen’s food feels like it’s cooked just for you, which it is, of course. Her food is at once intimate and comforting, yet horizon-broadening too, so yes, she is a one special cook. 

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