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We generally only paint the picture of “ success as the ladder up, not the path forward. I want to put more energy into the path forward. ” Grueneberg, from Chicago. She’s one of my closest friends, and she loves the idea of the auction. We’ll start building to bring in more national chefs, and I think the local chefs will really enjoy that as well.” And when natural disasters or unforeseen events occur, she’s all in—personally as well as professionally. After last year’s devastating hurricane season, she and her fiancé Kaitlyn Goalen (who serves as executive director of AC Restaurants) hosted a fundraising dinner and auction in their home. They pulled the event together in just one week, complete with bringing Chef Emeril Lagasse in to help cook. The event raised $125,000, and she adds: “I just love the idea of being able to dial in someone we haven’t really had a chance to work with, so I reached out to the Boulted Bread guys to ask if they’d be interested in baking the bread for the dinner; so they did. Since then we’ve gotten to know each other, and I just think of them as some of the finest people in this community.” As spontaneous as she may be, the commitment to helping others is something she forecasts for in her company’s annual budgets, because as she explains, “We have to be prepared for that stuff, because the restaurant industry—aside from first responders— are the next to come to aid when things like that happen. It’s so unfortunate when those things happen, but it’s a really beautiful thing to see how our community gathers.” Christensen has also made a practice of supporting the Share Our Strength campaign and its local focus on the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. Witness to her ability to inspire partnership giving at every turn, Counter Culture Coffee recently debuted its AC Celebration Blend in honor of her 2019 James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef, and proceeds will be donated to Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. Her latest cause to embrace: The Shepherd’s Table. “The Monday after the awards, we brought a team to volunteer at The Shepherd’s Table, which was an amazing experience. Kait had started a conversation with those guys, and I want to really bring some muscle [to their cause] in the upcoming year.” As for what she’s bringing next to the downtown dining scene: Neapolitan pizza, inspired by a trip she and Kait took to Italy. Look for Poole’side Pies to open next door to Poole’s Diner later this summer.

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TOP RIGHT: PIMENTO CHEESE WITH HOOK’S THREE-YEAR CHEDDAR AND FRIED SALTINES RIGHT: STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM SANDWICH WITH CORN COOKIES, LEMON CURD, AND N.C. STRAWBERRIES

Ashley's Picks: FAVORITE FOODS:

Tomatoes or Field Peas

GO-TO RESTAURANTS:

Garland, Bida Manda, Brewery Bhavana

NEIGHBORHOOD HANGOUT:

Players’ Retreat (It’s where she and Kait got engaged!)

NEXT TO VISIT:

Plates Neighborhood Kitchen

Profile for Midtown Magazine, Cary Living Magazine

Midtown Magazine  

July/August 2019

Midtown Magazine  

July/August 2019

Profile for midtown
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