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It’s been a pleasure, Ashley

November 22, 2023 - 00:00
Posted in:
  • Jennifer Ramirez
    Jennifer Ramirez
  • Ashley Owens
    Ashley Owens

During the summer I saw a help wanted post from the downtown restaurant Rail & Rye, so I inquired about working a little bit since I have my food handler certification, was home for the summer, and didn’t have much to do.

The manager, Braxton Carnes, told me that he and owner Jessica Tucker thought I would make a good host. I thought I would be a good BOH (back of house for all of you unfamiliar with restaurant lingo like I was — basically someone who works in the kitchen) person that could cut up veggies during the day, but definitely NOT be up front and visible. I liked the idea of being behind the scenes. But I agreed to try it out and I absolutely love it!

Fast forward almost six months later and my article this week is on their executive chef, Ashley Owens, who I have gotten to know in my time there. Like many of us who watch cooking/ restaurant shows on television, we know most chefs have “interesting personalities.” Ashley is no different. She has such a great personality — she is energetic, friendly and can whip up a great meal one minute and make a video/rap song the next! During our interview at a table at Rail & Rye, I learned even more about her and was shocked to find out what all she has survived in her short forty years.

Ashley was born in Searcy, Arkansas and was raised in Conway, Arkansas. She moved to Memphis when she got older and worked in a couple of restaurants as an apprentice along the way. She’s also lived in St. Louis and traveled to Miami, Durango and Mexico.

When asked about a cool place or adventure she has been on, she said she didn’t have any of those, but did survive a horrific car accident a few years ago where she was life-flighted by helicopter in a basket like you see on television. Ashley was a passenger in a car that was going over 120 mph and became paralyzed on both legs and was in a wheelchair for almost five years. Over 60% of her body was crushed from the accident where she suffered nerve and spinal cord damage, in addition to many other things. Doctors didn’t think Ashley would ever walk again, but after fourteen surgeries and tons of therapy, she is now walking great!

Ashley is most proud of surviving her childhood, where many traumatic events happened in her life. Among other things, she survived ovarian cancer at the age of fourteen. She says her greatest strength is her strong mental state and her weakest is seeing/hearing children, animals or the elderly in pain or crying.

She recently moved to Navasota from College Station and now conveniently lives walking distance to her job. She loves that no matter where you are going in town, you can get there in less than five minutes. She also loves all the downtown area. When I asked why she chose Navasota to move to, she answered because she saw an ad for a cook and applied. She likes Navasota because it is a “cute little town” and “everyone is sweet”. Her favorite person is “Mr. Tucker,” owner of Rail and Rye. She likes Chris because they have some things in common and have connected on different levels. Coincidentally, they are both from Arkansas and their hometowns are less than an hour away from each other. When I asked what her favorite place or thing is in Navasota — she smiled and quickly replied, “here!” She said she loves cooking at the downtown restaurant. I thought it was interesting that although she is an amazing chef, her favorite food to eat is a simple cheeseburger and sweet potato fries. Her favorite food to cook is seafood, although she doesn’t eat it! Ashley says she thought moving to Texas a few years ago was a mistake, but she now realizes it was a good decision because it got her away from the madness of where she was living.

Jim Carrey is her favorite person because he makes her laugh. Something interesting about her past is that she grew up on a small town farm. Presently, something interesting about her is that her TikTok page has had millions of views. In the future, she would love to open her own business. Her dream place to be is on a beach selling surfboards and living in a hut. If she could have dinner with anyone, it would be Tim McGraw because she loves his music. If she won $5 million, Ashley would buy her mom a house, put 2-3 kids through college, open an animal shelter, invest what was left and not do much of anything else!

On her days off, Ashley likes to make music in her studio. She enjoys recording and is willing and able to record for others. Her favorite singers are Rihanna, George Strait and That Mexican OT. When I asked what the last thing she read was, she said it was a cake recipe that she looked up to make for her boss Jessica Tucker’s birthday. She says her dream job is her current one — she is living her dream!

I have enjoyed working with Ashley and admire her work ethic and drive. Most of her kitchen helpers have remained with her for a long time, which says a lot about how she manages her kitchen and the relationships she builds with her team. She is very smart, talented, quick-witted and has a heart of gold.

Ashley — I am so glad to call you friend and proud to call you my newest Navasota neighbor!

The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Jennifer Ramirez. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner.

Jennifer is a lifelong resident of Navasota. She is passionate about her community and supports all things local.