It’s the middle of summer, which means two things: the air conditioner is on full blast at our place and a new series of Chopped Grill Masters is airing on Food Network. In a recent episode, Chef Ashley Pado displayed her talents on the grill and showed why, as the Head Chef at Certified Angus Beef, she can hold her own when comes to handling beef.
FP: Being on both shows is a true testament to your culinary skills! Tell us about your experience on Chopped Grill Masters. How would you compare/contrast being on Chopped vs. Cutthroat Kitchen?
AP: Chopped is definitely set as a ‘higher skill level’ competition show, I’d say. Because it is the most watched food competition show, I think the public hold the chefs competing on the show to a higher standard. Chopped has been on my bucket list for years…I just needed to find the guts to actually show up!
Cutthroat Kitchen was an amazing show to be a part of. It has way more elements of ‘fun’ to it and Chopped is taken seriously from the moment you start until it’s over. I was more than flattered to be called about Chopped and I think that it’s a huge honor to be considered for a national television show let alone be chosen.
FP: Share with us a day in the life as the Head Chef at the Certified Angus Beef Brands Education and Culinary Center.
AP: Certified Angus Beefs Education & Culinary Center is a DREAM role for most chefs, and it’s something I don’t take for granted in the slightest! We are a center located in Wooster, OH right next to our main campus offices and we host partners of the brand here. I am one chef of four in the company that all hold different roles. As Head Chef at the center, I lead the creativity of our food, the ideas we put out there to the public and to our brand partners focusing on BEEF 101. We help with ideas on how to better understand and use under-utilized cuts of beef, how to better promote our brand and how to EDUCATE the people on just how amazing our beef truly is! It’s something different every single day!
FP: Sounds like an ideal job for you! Where are some of your favorite places to eat in Wooster or other cities you’ve lived or traveled?
AP: I really enjoy our local food scene here in Wooster. I am born and raised here and after living in Florida and Los Angeles, coming home was such a shock! It is such an amazing thing to be raised in such a small town where once you’ve been gone for a few years, everything becomes so much more meaningful and special once you’re back 🙂
I love our local steakhouse here in town called The City Square Steakhouse. They do a great job with the certified angus beef brand and it’s always nice to see familiar faces when eating there. Then for a great cup of coffee I visit Oak Grove Eatery! I love the people there and the atmosphere is just what little Wooster needed.
As far as other places I’ve traveled, I truly can’t pick! ANIMAL in Los Angeles will always stick out to me though. I love their concept and the chefs do a phenomenal job highlighting the proteins they put out.
FP: What are some of your guilty pleasures? We call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 😉
AP: If I had all the time in the world, I would drive to NYC and eat PHO all day long. I’m not kidding. My fiancé and I took a trip in November JUST TO EAT PHO! Being from Wooster, all you really see here is meat and potatoes, so anytime we can, we take weekend trips away just to eat! I can whip some pho up sure, but it’s nothing like the authentic stuff 🙂 A gooey, soft boiled egg with al dente noodles and perfect broth. WOW! I am always in the mood.
Also, I have the biggest sweet tooth on the planet! I could eat doughnuts and coffee for lunch and dinner if I could.
FP: Let us know the next time you visit NYC! If you could get on a plane tomorrow and visit any place just for its food, where would it be?
AP: PARIS. I am a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, so I am trained in classic French cuisine and its been a dream of mine to visit and eat every chocolate croissant I lay my eyes on.
FP: Croissants?! Bon appetite! If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing? What are some of your non-cooking interests and hobbies?
AP: I have a few ideas – First, I would sell everything I own and become a drifter for a few years of my life. Camp. Boat. Hike. Fly to different countries and eat everything in sight. Learn about different cultures and just take everything in.
I have a serious passion for food styling as well. I worked as one in LA while living out west and fell in love with the art. I would be trying to squeeze my way in with Bon Appetite I believe.
Lastly, I would still be fighting for my own show on the Food Network. That’s too much a part of me to ever NOT consider 🙂
FP: We bet we’ll see you again on TV at some point in the future! What is the one item in the kitchen you can’t live without?
AP: It seems simple, but I wouldn’t function properly without a hand towel. Unless you are a chef or have worked as a line cook, your hand towel is an extension of your hand while cooking and I would be so lost without it.
FP: What are the three words that friends and family would use to describe you.
AP: Unique. Driven. Over-the-top 🙂
FP: Thank you, Ashley! We wish you continued success!