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Pastry Chef Ashley Boyd oversees dessert programs at both the Beard Award-nominated Heritage Food & Drink in Waxhaw NC, and Charlotte NC mainstay 300 East Restaurant. Boyd was raised in the food business, spending long afternoons at her mother’s restaurant as a child, later working in various positions as age allowed. Here she caught “the bug” that would lead her back into the industry after 6 years of study in Fine Arts and Art Education.
After graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Boyd quickly returned to restaurant work. At her first kitchen job, a Brazilian Churrascaria concept in Chicago, Boyd became infatuated with the work of the restaurant’s pastry chef Tanya Hemphill. Volunteering days off to learn from Hemphill cemented her love for the baking and pastry arts.
Restaurant, bakery and hotel positions in Chicago, Charleston and Detroit followed, each offering new learning opportunities and excellent mentorship. In particular, working under acclaimed chef Robert Carter and pastry chef Esthi Stefenelli at Peninsula Grill in Charleston exposed Boyd to a range of techniques & preparations, while a stage with pastry chef Michael Laiskonis at the legendary Tribute in Farmington Hills, Michigan imparted a stylistic and philosophical influence that remains with her today.
Eventually the time came to return to Charlotte and to the family business, 300 East. Boyd held many positions at the restaurant including GM, often pushing kitchen life onto the back burner. The passion for dessert-making however, remained constant. In September 2015, Boyd took on the Pastry Chef position at Chef Paul Verica’s Heritage Food & Drink while continuing to oversee the dessert program at 300 East. The ever-increasing variety of produce supplied by Charlotte’s agricultural community serves as inspiration for dessert menus at both restaurants, while Boyd’s fine arts background informs creative flavor combinations and plate design.
Outside of restaurant work, Boyd enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, two cats and a flock of hens. She volunteers time to various local food-related causes as a member of the Piedmont Culinary Guild, and to Charlotte-based organization Community Link in support of homeless-to-housing programs.