Most soup/salad/sandwich/prepared food shops don’t have executive chefs.
Then again, most of those places are not Mystic Market.
The Saugatuck spot — in the former Blu Parrot/ Jasmine/Arrow restaurant building, opposite the railroad station parking lot — just hired someone new for that position.
Ashley Boucaud brings an intriguing resume to her new gig. She grew up in both Manhattan and Trinidad & Tobago. When she started her photojournalism major at New York University, she was not interested in cooking. It was “a chore,” she says.
But during college she began cooking for friends. Then she hosted dinner parties.
Ashley’s friends loved her food, and encouraged her to do more.
She did. After a chance meeting with a student at Johnson & Wales University, she applied to — and was accepted at — the famed culinary school.
Four years in Providence turned into 8. Ashley loved the city’s robust food scene, and worked at restaurants there like Amsterdam and Parkside.
Jobs at Stamford’s Westin Hotel and UBS came next. In 2005 she started a private business. Ashley spent the past 14 years catering dinners and private parties.
Recently, Cecily Gans — Ashley’s former Johnson & Wales roommate, now a highly respected culinary arts instructor at Staples High School — told her that Mystic Market needed a new executive chef.
Ashley realized quickly that the entire team shared her passion for food. And Mystic Market’s mission — “cooking for good people” — is exactly what she’d been doing all along.
As executive chef she creates menus, oversees the staff, and ensures quality.
Since beginning there, Ashley has brought a bit of her West Indian background to Westport. “Big on seasoning,” she added fresh herbs and spices to recipes. She introduced vegan dishes with a bit of curry. New soups like Korean beef have sold out.
She’s particularly proud of “Chef Ashley’s braised short ribs.”
“I’m happy to come to work,” she says. “The hours are long. But I love it here. We have an amazing staff, and a great team.”
Looking ahead, Ashley hopes to expand the catering menu.
She’s also impressed with the many nationalities she’s met in Westport. “This is a diverse town,” she says. “I learn a lot from everyone. I want to bring what I learn to Mystic Market.”
(Mystic Market is now open at 7 a.m. Hot foods have proven very popular.)