Ashley Christensen

Location: Raleigh, NC
Restaurants: Poole's Diner, Beasley's Chicken + Honey, Chuck's, Fox Liquor Bar, Joule Coffee & Table
Books/Show: Two cookbooks in the works
Awards/Accolades: Winner 2014 James Beard Best Chef Southeast

Crafting consistently excellent food and drinks is a key part of ensuring a restaurant's success, but empire building takes a little (OK, a lot) something extra. In Ashley Christensen's case, that meant taking a gamble on a then not-especially-populated Downtown Raleigh location. Seven years later, they're still lining up on the sidewalk outside Poole's Diner, her four other restaurant and bars and (she hopes) the next three slated to open. She doesn't take the loyalty for granted either; Christensen quietly pays it forward in the form of copious charitable contributions and events, including an annual Thanksgiving dinner that feeds upward of 1,000 homeless citizens.

Braise your greens like Christensen.

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