Ashley Bivens Boyd was a teenager when her mom, Cathy Coulter, bought restaurant 300 East. Boyd worked as a hostess (a bad one, she jokes) and later, when she was old enough, as a server. She kept that job during her summers off from college in Chicago, where she studied fine art and graduated with a degree in painting. After graduation, she got a job that sounded fascinating—restoring old carousel horses. In reality, Boyd found it monotonous. Looking for a new art job in a competitive market, she became discouraged, and instead used her experience at 300 East to land a job as a pantry chef, in charge of salads and other cold foods. She was drawn to the work of that restaurant’s pastry chef and began coming in on her days off to learn how to make desserts. She found purpose in what she first thought was a secondary career.
From there, Boyd’s career progressed as any chef might hope it would: jobs in Chicago, Charleston, and Detroit, where she chipped in at Tribute, a restaurant acclaimed by The New York Times. Then, she decided to come back home to Charlotte.
That was in 2001. Over the next 15 years, as Charlotte’s food scene has improved, Boyd has remained focused in the kitchen, setting a Charlotte standard in that old house-turned-restaurant on East Boulevard. And if you’ve ever seen her desserts at 300 East or Heritage, where she helps chef/owner Paul Verica with the dessert program, you’ll see that art degree is being put to beautiful use.