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15 Minutes with Ashley Strickland Freeman

15 Minutes with Ashley Strickland Freeman
June 2020

The Charleston-based recipe developer and food stylist on her latest book, quarantine cooking, and sisterhood with Les Dames d’Escoffier





Ashley uses her favorite condiment to make her Avocado BLT with Basil Mayo sandwich.

CM: You’ve developed recipes and written cookbooks for Southern Living and other chefs. How did you decide to write your first cookbook about Duke’s Mayonnaise?
AF:
It’s been a dream of mine to write my own cookbook. The problem is nowadays you have to have a gajillion followers on Instagram, or be famous, and I didn’t have that platform. One day, I opened my fridge and there was a Duke’s jar staring me in the face. I had a lightbulb go off and thought Duke’s was the perfect medium for me to tie together recipes from my childhood and those inspired by my travels. I grew up on Duke’s. They have a cult following. I was surprised that no one had written a Duke’s cookbook before.

CM: Nathalie Dupree writes the forward to your book. Tell us about your relationship.
AF:
I was an apprentice for Nathalie Dupree in 2005 just before I went to culinary school in New York, and it was wonderful. I consider her my mentor. I’m proud to be one of her “chickens,” as she calls us. She always looks out for her former apprentices, and she helped guide me when I was writing the cookbook. Living in the same town and being able to work side-by-side with her occasionally is a dream come true.

For Ashley’s Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe made with Duke’s, click here.

CM: How did you select the recipes for the cookbook?
AF:
I wanted to have more of a modern, fresh take on some of the recipes in which we’re used to seeing mayonnaise. There are some classics: chicken salad, deviled eggs, tomato pie, but there’s also miso-glazed salmon and sticky toffee pudding—dishes you wouldn’t normally think mayonnaise would be in.

CM: Has cooking always been important to you?
AF:
Food is my love language. Cooking for people is how I show them that I care, especially now, during this crazy time. We’ve been cooking a lot at home, which has been comforting.

CM: What have you been cooking while you’ve been staying at home with your husband and four-year-old son the past couple of months?
AF:
We have tubs full of beans and every kind of canned vegetable you can think of. We’re trying not to go to the store, but I’ve missed fresh produce. We’ve been playing Chopped quarantine edition. That’s been fun.

CM: You’re a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier. Tell us about that.
AF:
We’re a tight-knit group, especially during this quarantine. It’s been wonderful to see how everyone has supported each other. Megan Deschaine has spearheaded an effort called Vital Hospitality Charleston, where people can buy meals for health workers, and it’s also helping us because a lot of the meals come from our members’s restaurants.