‘The luckiest lad in the world’: Acclaimed chef coming to the coast for cooking show

Matt Algarin

Chef Jon Ashton’s passion for food has burned within since he was a little boy growing up in Liverpool, England, as he spent time cooking in his grandmother’s warm cottage kitchen.

Embracing his early experiences, Ashton went on to graduate from St. Helens College in Great Britain, before working in the acclaimed Derby Lodge Hotel, and serving as sous chef in The Kirkland Hotel restaurant.

Currently, Ashton is a food correspondent for “The Daily Buzz” and is the contributing editor for Dash Magazine and Parade Magazine, which is inserted weekly into The Sun's sister paper The Destin Log. Ashton, who likes to be called Jon instead of chef, is known for his infusion of quick wit and culinary knowledge.

“My goal is to make meal times matter and put families back in the kitchen,” Ashton says.

The chef plans to wow the crowd with his humor and delightful culinary creations Oct. 6 when he takes part in the Dash Around The Table Cooking Show & Expo at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. The event is being organized by The Sun and other Florida Halifax media properties as a spin-off to last year’s successful Relish Cooking Show, which also featured Ashton.

Sponsored by Sandestin, attendees will “live, laugh and learn” as Ashton prepares some of his favorite recipes for the live audience.

Despite his busy schedule, Ashton took time out to answer a few questions for The Sun ahead of his visit.

Q: It’s been a year now, are you ready to come back to Destin?

A: I am ready to come back. I’m looking forward to meeting with the folks that came out last year to see what they’ve been cooking for the past 12 months.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most?

A There’s nothing quite like going to a city where you’ve been before and people have adopted you. I can understand why Willie Nelson does it and the late George Carlin did it into their late age. Going to these cities is fabulous.

Q: How important is it for today’s busy family to take time out to experience the joy of the kitchen and cooking?

A: It’s not just the kitchen; it’s making the time magic and spending it with your family. For a lot of our busy families, if one person enters the kitchen alone, it can be quite stressful. But if you bring the entire family in, you can talk about your day and you get to share and create memories.

Q: What are some of the ingredients people should focus on for their family meals?

A: Looking outside, since we’re surrounded by water, we’ve got all of those wonderful shrimp and lobsters that are so yummy.

Q: Do you have a favorite late summer dish?

A: I really love a fresh tomato salad. When they are in the garden and you can pick them, they are gorgeous. Top it with a couple of grilled shrimp and you’ll see me smiling like SpongeBob.

Q: Looking back, did you ever think that growing up and having this passion for food, you would be at this point in your career?

A: I did. I did because I wanted it and I prayed for it; I worked really hard for it. When I go to schools now I want to help to encourage people to follow their dreams and build their goals. I’m the luckiest lad in the world. 


The Dash Around The Table cooking show and expo will be Saturday, Oct. 6 at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. Cooking show and early bird tickets cost $15 and include a goodie bag and a raffle ticket for prizes. A grand prize drawing will be held for a Kenmore Elite 36-inch induction cooktop.

VIP tickets cost $75 and include a pre-show reception with appetizers and drinks, a meet-and-greet with Ashton, specialty seating at the show with food sampling, two tickets to win prizes and a special VIP goodie bag. The “Dash Around the Table” VIP reception for ticket-holders only is from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The cooking show begins at 7 p.m. at the Linkside Conference and Business Center in Sandestin at 9300 Emerald Coast Parkway West Miramar Beach, FL 32550.

Tickets can be purchased online at http://nwfdasharoundthetable.com/ or call 850-315-4306. Proceeds benefit Newspapers in Education through programs at the Northwest Florida Daily News and the Panama City News Herald.