New York City hotspot Saint Theo’s in the West Village is everything you want in the perfect dining experience; eclectic design, bespoke cocktails, hand-selected wines, and noteworthy food. We sat down with Chef Ashley Rath [The Grill, Santina, and Dirty French] who has created the seasonal menu at Saint Theo’s that is inspired by her travels and experiences, to chat about inspiration, favorite dishes, and more.
Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to be a chef? How did you get started?
Since I can remember I’ve always wanted to be in the kitchen. My first and fondest cooking memory is of my dad teaching me how to make scrambled eggs when I was a young kid. To this day I still eat these eggs multiple times a week. When I was older I decided to attend the University of St. Andrews in Scotland where I founded the Food & Dining Society on campus and spent a lot of time studying agriculture. Postgrad, I secured a job in New Delhi. While waiting for my visa I came back home and began cooking non-stop. This is when I made the executive decision to stay in New York and pursue my passion. My culinary career first began at the Waverly Inn, followed by Atera. After working with Chef Michael Anthony at Gramercy Tavern, I joined Major Food Group on the opening teams of Dirty French, Santina, and The Grill, where I served as the opening Chef de Cuisine. Before the opening of Saint Theo’s, I was the Executive Chef at Lalou in New York.
What trends do you see in the culinary world right now?
I see a lot of restaurants and chefs going back to minimalist-style cooking. These dishes might not have a ton on the plate, but are technique and ingredient-driven. It’s about integrating the chef’s story and passion into the meal itself by cooking what’s most important to them.
What is your secret to success?
My secret to success in my 20’s was working nonstop to make sure that I was learning as much as I possibly could about running a kitchen. My tip to success in my 30s is honing in on what the best work-life balance is for you and your personal life. I’ve learned that it’s really important to prioritize self-care and not sacrifice my own personal health for work.
For first-time guests at Saint Theo’s, what three dishes can they not miss? What is your go-to dish?
This is a tough one. I would say the funghi, roasted oysters (my personal favorite item on the menu), and the cherry tomato pasta, which is super simple, yet incredibly fresh and delicious.
What culinary destinations are on your bucket list?
Many of my bucket list destinations are located right here in New York City. I have Dame, Bonnies, Patti Ann’s, and Agi’s Counter on my list right now. I also would love to visit Paris and return to Argentina. I went to Buenos Aires when I was 16 and a vegetarian so I would love to go back and try a wider variety of dishes.