Once a passionate home cook, Ashley James obtained a degree in Philosophy and Social Justice from Loyola University Chicago, but her desire to be in the kitchen was calling her so she retrained as a chef. She began training at the famous Japanese restaurant Morimoto in Philadelphia; then with Robert Aikens at the Dandelion, in Philadelphia, a Farm to Table gastro pub. From there, she hopped across the pond to pursue her love for cooking and travel to work for a year in London as a young chef, continuing her relationship with Michelin Star restaurant Tom Aikens. Following her time in London, she returned to the States where she worked as The Head Chef at a farm restaurant in Connecticut and New York’s iconic Rainbow Room as a sous chef again under Robert Aikens’ tutelage.
In May 2016, she returned to London to establish a restaurant of her own, and with the help of her business partner, Stagolees, was born. A Southern Fried Chicken and Liquor Joint, Stagolees, the soul food restaurant of West London, known for its epic brunch and delicious cocktails, was only the start of her solo Chef adventure.
Since then, Chef Ashley has been working to expand her brand through her sauce line, Lil Laura's, and by teaching other's through her passion and joy for cooking, by giving classes, with a twist! Her new catering company, Laura's Kitchen, is the first step towards her next Southern restaurant. She will be participating in a series of pop ups in London and around the world, as well as menu/ restaurant consulting.