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Ashley Knudsen

Ashley Knudsen

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Ashley is originally from the West Coast and growing up always knew she wanted to be a chef. She loved being in the kitchen with her Nan, Gran, and Dad and says they are her biggest inspirations. Her interest in cooking came from her Dad’s lamb roast which is a staple in their house.

In 2021, Ashley was a finalist in the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Young Ambassador Chef Competition. She says she was encouraged to enter the competition, by her boss at the time, Greg Piner from No. 7 Balmac in Dunedin. Since competing she hasn’t looked back and found it to be a huge confidence boost and opened up new opportunities for her. Ashley attributes her success in making it to the final of the competition to the support from her friends and family. She says it was wonderful to have her partner and parents watch her compete at the competition.

Ashley now lives in Blenheim and works at Quench Restaurant under head chef Maree Connelly. Her partner works on a sheep station and on her days off, she loves to get out and help on the farm, whether it’s pushing up lambs or working as chief gate opener. Ashley says her time spent out on the farm is a really good way to learn what happens before the product gets to the plate. She has also learnt the basics of hunting and foraging and to utilise what is on hand to be creative in the kitchen.

This resonates well with Ashley, as being a farmer’s daughter, she looks for the simple earthy flavours from the paddock to recreate on the plate. The memories of home cooking and delicious smells coming from her childhood kitchen are always front of mind when thinking of creating new dishes. Ashley would like to make a name for herself in the industry to really help inspire people from back on the West Coast to push themselves and be an inspiration for those wanting to get out of a small town and dream big.

www.thechefskitchen.co.nz/ashley-knudsen

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Recipes by Ashley Knudsen

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30 mins prep |

4 hrs cook

Lamb Ragu Burger with Pickled Carrots and Minted Cucumber