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Adrian is one in 61,000

By Lauren Urban, Writer

When life gives Adrian Ashby lemons, he turns them into bacon Nutella brownies.

The 38 year old is now supervisor, executive office at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills and is celebrating 8 years with Northwell Health, but back in 2008, he found himself unemployed after the recession hit hard. He had lost his job as an administrative assistant and began a very stressful job search.  To find relief, he turned his focus to cooking and baking—a hobby he inherited from his mother and grandmother, whom he grew up watching cook elaborate meals using rich traditions from their native Barbados.

“Cooking is a good outlet because it gives you an opportunity to be in control of something,” Adrian said. “To me, it’s always been really relaxing. So if there’s a tough day, one of the things I do is cook. When I was unemployed, that was one of the things that really kept me together. It’s good for the ego…When it tastes good, everyone loves it, and you feel good about yourself.”

In 2009, the born-and-raised Queens resident secured a job with Northwell, but his burgeoning passion for the kitchen wasn’t extinguished. In fact, he began competing in baking and cook-offs citywide in his spare time, putting unique and creative twists on dishes such as duck, gumbo, chili, macaroni and cheese, bacon and meatballs, to name a few. To date, Adrian has participated in a whopping 50 cooking competitions, most of which are local.

“You have to think on your feet at competitions,” he said. “You have to serve but also describe your dish in detail over and over again… You have to put a lot of care, time and effort into making the best dish you possibly can.”

One of his first wins was secured with bacon Nutella brownies, which he considers to be his best dish. He tops the decadent brownies with a mouth-watering mixture of marshmallow fluff, butter, powdered sugar and bacon. “It’s a cardiologist’s dream,” he joked.  

Thanks to his numerous crowd-pleasing dishes and larger-than-life personality (he describes himself as “outgoing, talkative and extraverted to the fullest”), Adrian has built himself a reputation in the cooking community. In 2013, he was asked to compete on a special episode of Food Network’s “Chopped” geared toward amateur chefs. He has his eyes set on more television appearances in the future—he goes on one to two auditions a year—and he dreams of hosting his own cooking show one day.

Another future goal is to sell his unique formulas for ketchup, barbeque sauce and hot sauce. “Getting something like that out into the public would be awesome,” he said.

When he’s not dreaming big or whipping up gourmet treats for the greater New York City area, Adrian enjoys serving friends, family and his new wife, Sara, whom he married in 2016. 

One friend recently told Adrian he makes cooking look effortless. His response? “Well yeah, because I’m having fun with it!”

Interested in joining the 61,000? Learn more about careers at Northwell Health.