Falling in love with cooking while at college, Ashley Christensen got her first professional cooking job at age 21. She worked in some of the Raleigh, North Carolina, area’s best kitchens before in 2007 opening Poole’s Diner, a small comfort food space emphasizing locally grown ingredients. Next came Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Fox Liquor Bar, and in 2015, Death & Taxes, which celebrates wood-fire cooking with Southern ingredients, and private events loft Bridge Club. Death & Taxes was one of Food & Wine’s Best New Restaurants of 2016. Additional concepts include Neapolitan pizzeria Poole’side Pies and fast-casual chicken sandwich hang BB’s Crispy Chicken. All are in the Raleigh area. Christensen also works with multiple Raleigh-area charities and is co-chair of the Triangle Wine and Food Experience, benefitting the Frankie Lemmon Foundation. She’s the 2014 James Beard Foundation Award winner for Best Chef: Southeast, and the 2019 Outstanding Chef. Her most recent cookbook is 2021’s It’s Always Freezer Season.