What's on Now!
A CHEF’S LIFE is a new half-hour character-driven documentary and cooking series that takes viewers inside the life of Chef Vivian Howard, who, with her husband Ben Knight, left the big city to opena fine dining restaurant in small-town Eastern North Carolina. Each episode follows Vivian out of the kitchen and into cornfields, strawberry patches and hog farms as she hunts down the ingredients that inspire her seasonal menus. Using a chef’s modern sensibilities, Vivian explores Southern cuisine, past and present — one ingredient at a time. A celebration of true farm to table food, the 13-week series combines the action and drama of a high-pressure business with the joys and stresses of family life.
Vivian Howard originally made a name for herself in the Manhattan restaurant world and with her own gourmet delivery service.
Sweet Corn & Expensive Tea
Chef Vivian and her husband, Ben, leave New York to open a restaurant in her small North Carolina hometown. Vivian revisits the Southern tradition of "putting up" corn and shares her method for making smoked corn relish. As the episode concludes, a devastating setback threatens their new life.
Strawberry Stay at Home
Vivian and Ben rebuild their restaurant against the backdrop of the Southern harbinger of spring, the strawberry. Their twins go on their first strawberry-picking excursion, and Vivian and a friend develop a recipe for coconut cornbread strawberry shortcake with basil whipped cream.
Pimp My Grits
The restaurant gears up for a practice service when the new equipment and new menu will be tested in real time - but nothing is going as planned. One of the big changes to the restaurant's menus is the addition of a section called "Pimp My Grits," where Vivian exalts the lowly, quintessentially Southern ingredient in four distinct ways.
Vivian goes about christening the restaurant's new "whole animal, no waste" program with two little pigs from Warren Brothers' farm. She uses everything - including the skin - and, on her father's recommendation, demonstrates how to make sweet potatoes with cracklins.
Tomatoes....You Say Heirloom, I Say Old Timey
Mary Vaughn shows Chef Vivian the old-timey way to can tomatoes. Vivian prepares for a Southern Foodways Alliance luncheon at the restaurant where food enthusiasts from around the country are coming to study BBQ, and Vivian plans to serve them the "ultimate tomato sandwich."
The World Is Your Oyster
Vivian goes to Cedar Island to explore the new culture of farm-raised oysters in the Southeast. She and Ben share plans of opening an oyster bar across the street from Chef & the Farmer in hopes it will be a place that adds character and variety to the tiny town's "dining scene." Vivian and her dad orchestrate their family's first-ever oyster roast and are blown away by how much everyone enjoys it.
Ben, Vivian and the twins pick muscadine grapes at a small local vineyard while learning the history of this native grape. Vivian visits Mike and Gator, her grape suppliers, and makes homemade wine. Back at the restaurant, Vivian makes a pizza with mulled muscadines, and Ben tests this new creation during their first stressful pizza night in the wine shop.
A Road Trip for Rice
Vivian travels to Columbia, South Carolina, to meet with Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills and learns about Carolina heirloom rice growing in fields on the Savannah River. Glenn explains Anson Mills' efforts to save heirloom grains and discusses the importance of ingredient biodiversity. Glenn's passion inspires Vivian to host a "rice dinner" at Chef & the Farmer, where each course centers around this grain. Scarlett, Vivian's mom, schools her daughter on how to make the chicken and rice she grew up eating.
A Peanut Pastime
Vivian visits neighbor Marty Harper's peanut farm just before and during harvest. Vivian's dad introduces Ben and Vivian to the old school break snack, a pack of salted peanuts dumped into a Pepsi in a glass bottle. At the restaurant, Vivian translates the snack into Pepsi glazed pork belly with country ham braised peanuts. Vivian reinvents the popular Southern snack, boiled peanuts, for the local farmers' market.
Love Me Some Candied Yams!
Vivian introduces viewers to Rob and Amy Hill, proprietors of one of the largest sweet potato farms in the country and two of the restaurant's best customers. Vivian and her mom, Scarlett, make her grandmother's candied yams, and Vivian later re-imagines these for the restaurant with texture, sorghum and pecans. Mother Earth Brewery and Chef & the Farmer team up for a beer dinner, featuring first-of-the-season sweet potatoes.
Collard Green Queen
Vivian spends the morning with her neighbors, the Mills brothers, participating in their 100-year-old all-male family tradition of making collard kraut. Vivian visits Warren at Brother's farm to talk about the Eastern Carolina ingredient with a cult following, the cabbage collard. Vivian prepares for an event called Terra Vita, where she will serve three courses to 100 people and make collards the star they deserve to be.
The Buttermilk Belt
Vivian and Ben go to Maple View Dairy to pick up product for the restaurant. They talk buttermilk with the dairy's manager, and the noise Ben makes while savoring his cup of the thick liquid annoys his wife. The couple attempts to shoot the twins' Christmas card picture in the family's swimming-pool-turned-turnip patch, while Vivian's nieces and nephews desperately try to make buttermilk with their great-grandmother's butter churn.
Have Yourself Some Moonshine
Vivian visits Broad Slab Distillery, where they talk about the art and soul of white lightning. The restaurant's mixologist works moonshine into several new drinks, while the restaurant staff struggles through the holiday party season. They end the season with a party of their own at Ben and Vivian's new house, with AppleJack Moonshine cocktails making a guest appearance.
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