When Chef Ashten was three years old, his parents bought him a fully equipped toy kitchen and his own set of pots and utensils. The microwave oven had a bell, the refrigerator dispensed water and the stove burners turned orange like a flame. He was hooked! Most kids outgrow toy kitchens and the pots and pans stage, but not Chef Ashten.
A few years later, Chef Ashten received an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas and baked all the desserts in one day. He peered through the glass paneled oven door, watching in amazement as the batter transformed into something that was edible and delicious. Soon, thereafter, Chef Ashten was cooking real food with authentic pots and pans in his mother's kitchen. His interest level was so high that his parents enrolled him in culinary classes during summer breaks. It is while participating in those classes that he decided to pursue his passion as a profession.
In preparation for college, Chef Ashten enrolled in the Chef Prep and Hospitality Management Program at his high school. This program provided him with practical exposure to, and hands-on experience in, a professional kitchen. While participating in this program, Chef Ashten was inducted into the National Technical Honors Society in recognition of his achievements in the areas of scholarship, leadership, responsibility, citizenship and commitment to the culinary field. Outside of his accomplishments in culinary arts, he was captain of the varsity football team, ran track and participated in various volunteer activities. Summers during Chef Ashten’s high school years were spent working at a fine dining restaurant and a catering service where he gained valuable experience from being introduced to numerous stations within the restaurant industry.
After high school, Chef Ashten attended Johnson and Wales University in Miami, Florida. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality Management and an Associate of Arts Degree in Culinary Arts. During his senior year, Chef Ashten spent several months in Italy studying Italian culture and cuisine. Following this study abroad experience, Chef Ashten returned to Italy, as one of seven students chosen to participate in the prestigious Tuttotoscana Study Away Program/James Beard Foundation. This experience involved three weeks of intense study in Florence, Italy and one week of both instruction and presentation at the James Beard House in New York City.
Upon graduation, Chef Ashten was selected to participate in the Culinary Arts Manager in Training Program at the Marriott International Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio, where he is currently employed. In May of 2019, Chef Ashten earned top honors by competing against five other culinarians in the Marriott International Masters of the Craft Culinary Arts Competition held in Cleveland, Ohio.
In February 2020, Chef Ashten was invited to return to Florence, Italy to compete in Federazione Italiana Cuochi Campionati Della Cucina Italiana 2020- a global competition sponsored by The World Association of Chefs Societies. Talented chefs from around the world competed for accolades and awards. After six days of challenging lectures, dish composition, recipe development and practice, Chef Ashten and his team traveled to Rimini, Italy to prepare and present their dishes, and claimed a bronze medal for their creations.
After careful vetting, Chef Ashten was selected to compete on Food Network's nationally syndicated show, Guy's Grocery Games, America's Next Chefs episode. Contestants were given a list of mandatory ingredients, a shopping cart and literally had to run around Guy's Flavortown supermarket, gathering additional ingredients of their choosing, to create individual dishes to present to the judges. Each round was a race against the clock. Contestants were given full access to all equipment and had their choice of preparation techniques to assist in completing the challenge. After three demanding and highly competitive rounds, Chef Ashten finished in first place! The episode aired March 18, 2020.
Chef Ashten has always dreamed of studying at a Michelin Star restaurant. In February 2020, he was awarded a grant from the prestigious Ment'or BKB Foundation, in conjunction with Sysco Foods, to train for two months at any Michelin Star restaurant in the world. This experience will take place in 2021. It is a dream come true and important step in Chef Ashten’s culinary quest.
Chef Ashten’s professional affiliations include membership in the American Culinary Federation, American Culinary Federation Young Chefs Club, National Society of Minorities in Hospitality, American Hotel and Lodging Association, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In his spare time, Chef Ashten enjoys reading, exercising, being outdoors, traveling, trying and experimenting with new foods, writing recipes and hanging out with friends and family.