Ashton Keefe is a chef and culinary stylist. With a focus on beautiful and seasonal food, Ashton encourages food enthusiasts to embrace the practice of everyday cooking and celebrations. She continually works with recognizable clients and colleagues such as Tom Colicchio, Giada DeLaurentiis, Scott Conant and Kelly Clarkson. With a bubbly and convivial nature that mirrors her overarching and founding belief that food is an act of love and an opportunity for beauty, her professional experience and personal mantra are best expressed in collaborations creating content and executing events with lifestyle brands emerging into the hospitality space, such as, Whispering Angel, Instagram, Fab Fit Fun, Tuckernuck and Equinox.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm a chef and culinary stylist. I grew up in New Jersey in a home centered around food and entertaining, to this day, my mother is my biggest inspiration and entertaining role model. I studied entrepreneurship at Wake Forest before attending culinary school in NYC and jumping into the restaurant. After working in restaurants for years, I accidentally transitioned into food styling for video and TV before making the move to be on camera.
What does balance mean to you?
Balance means feeling good. My life isn’t always balanced but even during the chaotic times, I do find moments of quiet. And on the flip side, I’m learning to enjoy downtime without worrying about the next opportunity.
What three things define balance for you and how do you achieve them?
Family and friends. Family is always first. My parents have been my biggest supporters and cheerleaders from day one and I'm lucky to call my sisters (and brothers-in-law) best friends. I'm doubly blessed that my sisters are also in hospitality so we always bounce ideas off each other. I'm a big believer in the philosophy, "Show me your friends and I'll tell you who you are." My ride-or-die childhood crew is the cornerstone of what friendship means to me. They keep me grounded in a way few other things in New York do. They're the first to set me straight, have my back and remind me of who I am at my core.
Health. I need to sweat every day, period. So working out is key. I'm a huge advocate of getting "fresh air" and taking walks to clear my head. Every morning I wake up, meditate, wash my face and get outside for some fresh air—even if it's zero degrees. Setting the morning on a positive and fresh note makes the rest of the day fall into place.
Hobbies/Fun Time. I'm a silly and goofy person by nature so I need to make room for play. Vacations, beach time, drinking wine, karaoke, reading, friends, going out, eating. I'm in the business of living life first and foremost.
What advice do you have for someone struggling to find work/life balance?
Stop trying to be perfect. I will practice this every damn day for the rest of my life. Taking away the expectation that your life should be perfectly "balanced" at all times will transform your life. It's not going to be! So embrace both the crazy time and the really chill times. Finding sustainable balance for me is about finding little pockets within the day to give yourself a pause.
Do you have any go-to resources or rituals that help you find balance?
Workout classes! I'm a solo person by nature, probably because for so much of my job I have to "be on." So I always stayed away from group exercise, but I gave in, and it changed my life! I've met a huge community of amazing women, S&B ladies included. Favorite classes include Madelaine O’Connell’s on Obe, Amanda Kloots Dance, Melissa Wood Health workouts and the ladies at The Ness.
Now let’s have some fun, what are some random things we don’t know about you?
I grew up being called by my middle name, Colleen (and some people still call me that!).
There is no place I feel more like myself than the Jersey Shore, I essentially revert back to my 16-year-old self, which is probably my soul age.
I think I was Italian in a past life, not a year has gone by in the last 10 where I haven't ended up in Italy for some unplanned reason.
To learn more about Ashton visit her website and follow @ashtonkeefe on Instagram!