Chef Jon Ashton Relishes Maine

Salmon Devoured
When was the last time a funny and talented celebrity chef with a charming British accent popped in to make you lunch? Well, up until last week, I would have said “never” but thanks to my friend Cheri, I can now say, “Oh, just the other day, love!”

Chef Jon Ashton was recently in Portland, Maine — part of a 20-city tour for The Relish Magazine Cooking Show. Prior to his arrival, the Portland Press Herald held a contest asking people to submit their worst cooking disasters. The person deemed most disastrous, would have the good fortune of Ashton coming to their home to make lunch for the winner and guests.

Cheri Swenson Murdock

Cheri Swenson Murdock won the contest, after describing an Easter debacle where she placed a special ham in the oven and mistakenly turned the dial to “clean” — thereby putting the family’s holiday dinner into serious “lockdown.”  She tried and tried, and could not unlock the oven, until a handy relative broke out the tool kit and took the oven apart — finally freeing the ham, much to the relief of the hungry guests!


So on a rainy Thursday, exactly as promised, Ashton arrived at Cheri’s house at noon with a small entourage of media hosts and camera crew. The idea was for him to make something from whatever is normally in her pantry, but Cheri admitted she had recently been to the market to pick up some fresh salmon, and a few favorite vegetables and herbs. Honestly — who would want to be caught at the end of the week with emergency canned soup and expired dairy products? Not me!

Baby Potatoes

Ashton surveyed the fresh fish, cilantro, asparagus and baby potatoes, and knew exactly what to make. While the salmon seared, he blanched the quartered baby potatoes, and then blanched the asparagus pieces in the potato water (so as not to waste). A delicious orange reduction was made with orange juice, cilantro stalks, garlic and fresh lemon and lime juice. A separate glaze was made with honey, soy sauce and lime. The potatoes and asparagus ended up in the same pan, along with shallots, chive cream cheese and parmesan. Creamy and delicious!

Chef Jon Ashton preps Salmon

Once the vegetables and salmon were cooked to perfection, Ashton carefully plated it with the glazes.

Salmon Plated

Salmon Devoured

As you can see, we weren’t shy about digging in!  It was fantastic!  I would describe the dish as healthy, flavorful comfort food — especially welcome on a cool and rainy spring day. And what was amazing to me, was that it only took about 40 minutes from prep to fork!

Chef Jon Ashton and SFX Guy

Later that evening, I attended The Relish Magazine Cooking Show at the Expo. It was highly entertaining! Ashton is comedic and engaging, bringing lots of audience members on stage to join in the fun. If you get a chance, check out his web site, fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. And to get a flavor of what you may have missed at the Expo, make sure you watch the funny video clip below, shot by Meredith Goad of the Portland Press Herald. Right-o!  Bon Appétit, mate!


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