Ashley's responses are candid to the point that our interview felt more like a conversation over whiskey shots than a formal Q and A. That may be why I enjoyed typing it up, because we both write like we talk. I learn a few more anecdotes from her before it's time to go.
So you haven't seen the first part of our interview with Ashley?
Part one can be found over here.
Hardest lesson you've learned.
The hardest lesson I've learned so far is to just have faith. Life really does suck sometimes. You will get your heart broken. Your dream job will turn out to be a nightmare. Your life will get shaken up, and everything you once knew to be a fact will no longer exist. But just have faith that everything happens for a reason. The dust will settle, and you will smile and laugh and love once again.
Do you have any skills that have nothing to do with food?
I'm pretty good at board games.
I hear you're a big hockey fan. Tell us some some of your favorite players.
I'm a huge Ducks fan. I've lived in Anaheim pretty much my whole life, and worked in the team's administrative office when I was in college, so they hold a very special place in my heart. I wish I had season tickets, but I'd never be able to go to any of the games! I have a thing for enforcers, so Jim Cummins and George Parros are some all-time favorites of mine.
Do you have any pets?
Currently, I do not have any pets. However, I do love animals, especially dogs. I've been lucky to have raised some amazing animals that have enriched my life in ways I can't explain. I've got the worst puppy fever. Don't bring your puppies around me, because I will seriously and quietly consider stealing them.
When you're not in the restaurant, what are you doing in your free time?
Mostly I spend my free time catching up on things. . . .like bills, sleep and gossip. We're closed Sundays, so brunch with my friends is usually at the top of my "to-do" list.
What's your favorite childhood memory?
Around the same time my brother was teaching me to cook Top Ramen [Editor's Note: Refer to part one for further explanation. It's worth the click.], WWF was everything. So one day, we took my mom's Chinese bamboo sticks she had uselessly sitting around as decoration, painted them red, white and blue, then made a wrestling rink in our front yard. All the neighborhood kids came out, and we had our own version of The Ultimate Warrior wrestling Andre the Giant. I was one of the youngest then, and barely remember the faces, much less the names of the other kids. But I will always remember that day, and the look on my dad's face when he got home from work.
Tell us something most people don't know about you.
I love, love, LOVE musicals. Growing up, I never understood why the first day of school wasn't a giant musical number like in Grease 2.
We hear you like to run. Have you done any races? Where do you prefer to work out?
Running, like cooking, helps me tune out all the excess noise in the world. My body is banged up from cooking, though. So I've had to take it easy. I've done the Orange County half-marathon. The course is so beautiful, you forget you're running 13 miles. It was one of the best feelings and biggest adrenaline rushes I've ever experienced. I have a 24-Hour Fitness pass. It's very convenient, and I like that I can go whenever I want; and there's always one nearby.
What would you be doing if you weren't in the industry?
Probably something to do with travel and writing. Samantha Brown's job seems awesome.
Where did you grow up?
Here in Orange County. I lived in East Anaheim as a kid, then we moved to Anaheim HIlls, where I lived until just a few months ago. Now I live in Tustin, and I love it.
Do you like to travel? Where was your most recent vacation?
Aside from cooking, traveling is probably the only other activity that I am innately passionate about. It's something that I value above most other things. Other than quick day trips to San Francisco, my most recent vacation was spring of last year. I was waiting for everything to be put in place to open The North Left, and the Philippines was calling me. I spent almost two months there. I was a new person when I came back.
What's this we hear about you and Aron playing pranks on each other?
To be honest, we don't really play that many pranks on each other. I've never been that good at keeping a straight face, and for the most part, we just give each other a hard time in a very sibling-ish kind of way. The only real joke I've played on him, (which of course, I Instagrammed) was actually thought up by one our most talented, albeit deviant cooks, whose experience with kitchen pranks is much more involved than mine.
He was skimming the solidified fat of some beef jus, and challenged me to get Aron to take a bite out of it without him knowing what it was. I knew it would have to look legit to get him to eat it without questioning me, so I tempered some chocolate and decorated it to look like a chocolate-hazelnut tart. I even staged a fake photo shoot to make it seem like it was something I'd be putting on the menu. Everyone was in on the joke, even a table of guests who had seen me taking pictures. He was such a good sport about it, I'd feel bad pulling another prank. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't.