Chef's Life

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In this Peabody Award-winning series, Vivian Howard, proprietor of Chef and the Farmer restaurant, explores Southern cuisine with a chef’s modern sensibilities. As Vivian and husband Ben Knight introduce viewers to the farmers and cooks of the American South.
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Vivian Howard

Vivian Howard

Vivian Howard originally made a name for herself in the Manhattan restaurant world and with her own gourmet delivery service.

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Sweet Corn & Expensive Tea

Episode #101 · 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

Episode #102H · 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.

Strawberry Stay at Home

Episode #102 · 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

Episode #103H · 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.

Pimp My Grits

Episode #103 · 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.

Cracklin' Kitchen

Episode #104H · 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.

Cracklin' Kitchen

Episode #104 · 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

Episode #105H · 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."

Tomatoes....You Say Heirloom, I Say Old Timey

Episode #105 · 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

Episode #106H · 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.

The World Is Your Oyster

Episode #106 · 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.

Muscadine Time

Episode #107H · 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.

Muscadine Time

Episode #107 · 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

Episode #108H · 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 Road Trip for Rice

Episode #108 · 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

Episode #109H · 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.

A Peanut Pastime

Episode #109 · 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!

Episode #110H · 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.

Love Me Some Candied Yams!

Episode #110 · 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

Episode #111H · 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.

Collard Green Queen

Episode #111 · 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

Episode #112H · 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.

The Buttermilk Belt

Episode #112 · 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

Episode #113H · 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.

Have Yourself Some Moonshine

Episode #113 · 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.

Blueberries and Boiling Over

Episode #201H · After a year recovering from a restaurant fire and re-opening Chef and the Farmer, Vivian and Ben open a burger/oyster bar called the Boiler Room. Vivian boils over with the stress of staffing adjustments, testing new menu concepts and the task of putting 500 pounds of blueberries to good use. She dons a hairnet and bubbles with excitement at the sight of her blueberry BBQ sauce hitting the assembly line. The staff of Chef and the Farmer finally lets off some steam with a growler cocktail and a blueberry BBQ water park extravaganza.

Shrimp Sells

Episode #202H · Vivian and Ben head to the beach for their annual summer vacation with the Howard family. Vivian turns up the heat with a bit of friendly competition with her older sisters. Frogmore stew, cooked outside at the beach, of course. She visits a fish camp and learns the heads and tails of fresh shrimp. Back in Kinston, the devil is in the details as Vivian and Ben prepare to open their second restaurant, the Boiler Room, and controversy brews over the bun for the burgers.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T The Butterbean

Episode #203H · Burgers. Oysters. Beer. Vivian and Ben are on the cusp of opening their new restaurant, the Boiler Room, and they're facing a new challenge: how to make a veggie burger stand out. Vivian chooses the beloved butterbean as the star of her new burger, but quickly learns that the bean is a straight up diva - the Aretha Franklin of the legume family - when it comes to growing conditions. After a wet spring, Warren's patch is abysmal, but with the help of onions and gouda, eggplant and garlic, Vivian's butterbean burger is the talk of opening night.

Don't Tom Thumb Your Nose at Me! Part 1

Episode #204H · Vivian, Ben and the entire Chef and the Farmer staff hustle to complete the preparations necessary for her luncheon at the Southern Foodways Alliance symposium in Oxford, Mississippi. At the center of her generation-spanning meal is the Tom Thumb, a pungent and rich sausage stuffed into a pig's appendix. As preparations get underway, the sheer math of the moment is astounding: four courses for 400 food writers and Southern food enthusiasts - 1,600 plates in the span of 90 minutes. Vivian greets this honor with terror and sheer force of will, leaving a long prep day with a sense of pride and excitement.

Don't Tom Thumb Your Nose at Me! Part 2

Episode #205H · The excitement of the night before turns into heightened emotion and real nerves for Vivian as she faces one challenge after another in the prep kitchen before the SFA luncheon. Wondering at the sanity of this undertaking, she's glad to have Chef Jason Vincent to lend some street cred to the whole endeavor. Rice almost brings Vivian to her breaking point, but everyone pulls together for the big event and her parents join her on stage for an emotional and watershed moment.

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