Be on the lookout: Ashley Christensen's cherished, charity-contributing cooker stolen from Raleigh lot | Food

Be on the lookout: Ashley Christensen's cherished, charity-contributing cooker stolen from Raleigh lot

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Have you seen this cooker? - PHOTO COURTESY OF ASHLEY CHRISTENSEN
  • Photo courtesy of Ashley Christensen
  • Have you seen this cooker?
This morning, Raleigh chef Ashley Christensen learned that one of her prized cooking possessions was missing from the gated-and-locked lot of Aux, her Raleigh restaurant group's commissary kitchen near Capital Boulevard. 

The cooker was a gift from Nick Pihakis, the Birmingham, Alabama-based barbecue master, in celebration of Christensen's James Beard Award win in 2014. Its original design came from Sam Jones, the North Carolinian responsible for Skylight Inn BBQ in Ayden and, now, his own Sam Jones BBQ near Greenville.

But Christensen says the theft is about far more than a missing piece of property, as she uses the cooker as a part of a traveling pitmaster team that participates in charitable events.

"If it was just a thing, we wouldn't ask everybody to be looking out for it," she explains. "It's a gift that represents something so special to us and also that it limits our ability to do something that we feel like is a real contribution to cooking for different causes that we really enjoy being a part of."

Christensen believes that the thief had planned the heist for some time, as power tools were used to break open the gate as well as remove the cooker from its locked trailer hitch. The one-of-a-kind cooker is about five feet wide and four feet deep, Christensen estimates. It's all steel, too, with a double-wall design that allows for efficient cooking, even in the dead of winter. There are two red pieces welded to the lid, a modification designed by Christensen's uncle to improve the lid's locking mechanism.

If you spot the cooker or know anything about its whereabouts, Christensen says to get in touch via social media or to call any of her restaurants. Find it, and who knows, maybe you'll get free Poole's mac and cheese for life?


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