Compelled by the idea of mouth watering, good for your soul (and body) cooking packaged with a budget-friendly price tag, professional cook Ashley Cox finally gave in to the wishes of clients, friends and family alike with the release of The Millennial Cookbook. A literal extension of her customized meal prep service, Simply Chef Ash, the cookbook offers bold, simple and organic eatables for even the most inexperienced of cooks. From delectable mac and cheese cups to bizarrely convincing flour-less crepes, classics are modernized with health savvy techniques and upgraded alternatives for a more nutritious, guilt-free meal. Just in time for the holiday season, we’ve caught up with this budding talent and curated a festive brunch featuring selections from the anticipated cookbook, prepared by Chef Ash herself! Happy eating (and holidays)!
Some chefs tend to find their passion for cooking in the most unlikely of places or circumstance. Where and when did you find inspiration to cook? When did you decide to do so professionally?
I began cooking professionally when I became a nanny. The family wanted me to provide healthy well-balanced meals. I realized my passion when I was compelled to be constantly creative at work. I pushed myself to think outside the box and developed a love for playing with bold unexpected flavors using healthy, fresh ingredients.
There are so many cookbooks written for millennials. What separates “The Millennial Cookbook” from the others?
I wanted to create a guide for people that helped them to shop on a budget while still allowing them to experiment with cool, new food trends. I also wanted to keep an emphasis on simple recipes that even beginners can feel comfortable about. Budget friendly, simple recipes that are still fun and hip are hard to find, which is why I think people are so excited about this book.
Your book mentions subtle references to traditional Caribbean cuisine, i.e. your baked macaroni cups and jerk corn on the cob. Are you of Caribbean heritage and if so how has it influence your cooking?
Yes, my mother is Jamaican and her love of spice is definitely translated in almost every recipe I make. I love to play with spicy and sweet flavor profiles, you’ll see that in a lot of my dishes.
What other cultures do you look to for inspiration and how do you include them in your work?
My best friend is Pakistani and her mom makes a lot of dishes, which I love because they’re mostly vegan and the flavor profile is similar to Caribbean cuisine. I like to incorporate Pakistani inspired dishes with a modern twist into menus for clients. I also draw inspiration from my father’s southern roots. His dishes were very soulful and always ridiculously rich and delicious. I challenge myself by creating dishes with the same soulful taste while keeping it lighter in calories.
Fresh products can be costly. As your book is made with savings in mind, how does the average person purchase organic goods on a dime?
Trader Joe’s and Aldi’s are in my opinion the best way to save on fresh organic food while you’re on a budget. There are much lower in cost compared to other organic health food stores and really give you variety in healthy options while helping you save.
The Millennial Cookbook lists so many mouthwatering dishes, how did you decide which recipes would make the cut?
I asked myself three questions when it came down to editing editing recipes: is it affordable and healthy? is it relatively easy to make? is it interesting and creative?
What are your top three go-to tips while cooking?
- Set the mood – play your favorite album, do a little dance, be confident!
- Be overly prepared – prep everything and make sure all of the ingredients you’ll need are readily accessible.
- Taste as you go – if things seem off, your taste buds will put you back on track.
All in all, put a little love in your food and it will love you right back!
For more information on Simply Chef Ash or to schedule a consultation, visit www.simplychefash.com