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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Have what she's having: Ashley Simone talks 'Foodgasm'
DISH: WEEKLY DINING GUIDE IN WINDY CITY TIMES
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2011-09-14

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What happens when sexy chef Ashley Simone cooks up a show full of food and recipes with her lesbian director mother? You have a Foodgasm!

Simone is rooted in Chicago studying at Columbia College dancing her way into the Ringling Brothers circus. She is currently finishing up her degree in the culinary arts at the Illinois Institute of Art while filming her Foodgasm web series. Windy City Times visited the set to see what is stewing with Simone.

Windy City Times: Hi, Ashley. This must be difficult working in an outdoor shoot today, with all the bugs and dogs barking.

Ashley Simone: Yes, and the later it gets the darker so I have to go faster!

WCT: So you not only the host but you produce Foodgasm as well?

AS: I am one of the producers. There is Etta Worthington, the director, as well and David Strzepek. So there are three of us. So I wear many hats. I am the chef, creator of recipes, performer and producer.

WCT: Do you write your spiel?

AS: We have an interesting format because the crew needs some sort of a script but this is more freestyle as you can kind of see. We have a general idea of what we are saying and where I am going to be so the camera can follow me but much of it is freestyle.

WCT: Where do the recipes come from?

AS: This is food that I love to cook. The show focuses on alternative food, such as vegetarian and gluten-free. I love cooking and I am just finishing up culinary school.

WCT: Where do you want to go after school?

AS: Pretty much this show. This is something that we just started in March with filming. We had the idea for a while but just started filming it. I would love to have the show on a cable network. I would like to have different segments with Foodgasm Travels or Foodgasm Lite. There are many ideas for the show to grow. I also plan to have a catering company in addition to the show. We could have Foodgasm parties!

WCT: Have you always performed in some way?

AS: I started out performing as an actress and dancer for the first parts of my life. I worked professionally as a dancer with the circus at Ringling Brothers. This is a great way to blend my two loves. I get to work with my mom, which is cool.

WCT: How is it being directed by your mother? Now that she just walked away!

AS: It can be a little trying but we try to work on being as professional as possible. There is still the mother/daughter thing but we are very good friends. We work well together. We step back if it goes down the wrong path. We don't want the crew to say, "There go Ashley and Etta on their mother-daughter drama!"

WCT: Where did your look come from?

AS: I used to perform at the Green Mill with Alan Gresik's Swing Shift Orchestra on Thursdays. I love swing and got into that scene a while back. I started playing with the look. I didn't have the purpose in going out to look like Lucille Ball but now people say I look like a vamped up Lucy. I can be a little wacky or over the top sometimes.

WCT: You have a cooking blog to go with the show?

AS: Yes, I started my cooking blog when I was going to school and I changed it for the show to specifically show recipes that I do. They are on the website as well. We are trying to do more blogging about wine and the pleasure of food.

WCT: You are working on a cookbook?

AS: Yes, but first I want to work on cookbook calendar with a vintage pinup girl every month with a little recipe card. All of these recipes we will begin compiling into a cookbook as well.

WCT: Have you approached the Food Network?

AS: Not yet but we are still building this. I am not saying this is a rehearsal but in a way it is. Everybody is figuring out how we do this. We are lucky. Our crew has experience working with past cooking and reality shows. We are all figuring out how to do this and do it well. I don't want to do a competition because we are not about that. We are about the sensuality and the fun. Let's enjoy our food and the pleasure of it. We want to film a nice pilot and have them approach us not us approach them.

WCT: You say, "Food is love." How is food love?

AS: When I cook for people usually I like them and/or love them. Spending that time to really cook and not just give someone a Big Mac and fries. Taking the time is love. You feed the people you love. My grandmother was very into being hospitable and welcoming at her table. It has always been a way to love the people you are around in my family.

Fill up on Foodgasm at www.afoodgasm.com .


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