A Chef's Life
A Chef’s Life is a Peabody, James Beard, and Emmy award-winning docu-series that plunges audiences into the kitchen of a high-end restaurant located in the low country of eastern North Carolina. It follows the trials and travails of Chef Vivian Howard and her husband, Ben Knight, and their farm-to-table restaurant, Chef & the Farmer, exploring both traditional and modern applications of quintessential Southern ingredients. Vivian’s skill in the kitchen is an equal match for her charismatic personality. Much more dynamic than a typical cooking show, A Chef’s Life is a character-driven documentary and cooking series that premiered nationally on PBS stations in September 2013. A Chef’s Life is currently in its fourth season.
Vivian was one of the opening staff members with Jean-Georges at Spice Market and simultaneously opened her own gourmet delivery service Vim’s Kitchen, serving the likes of Liv Tyler, Helena Christiansen and the fusionists of Gucci. Trendsetter, Underground Eats, called her their all-time favorite chef.
With such great momentum came investment offers. But an offer from Vivian’s father, a big-time hog farmer, called out the loudest. He offered to help her open her own restaurant South of Houston Street (Soho) – way south! The Deep South to be exact: Kinston, North Carolina, an area known for its history in tobacco cultivation and BBQ joints. Vivian and her husband Ben (a Chicago-raised professional artist) found the offer too good to resist and packed up their NYC life for a new opportunity. The girl who said she’d never go back was heading home.
She soon realized the cooking techniques she learned in NYC could be applied to her “grandmother’s ingredients,” the bounty grown and raised by local farmers. In true farm-to-table fashion, audiences follow Vivian into the fields as she travels from cornfields to strawberry patches to hog farms to hunt down the ingredients that drive her seasonal menus.
Fifteen years in, Vivian and her restaurant have won numerous accolades, including the prestigious Peabody Award, an Emmy, and James Beard Award for A Chef's Life. But as the series opens, Vivian and her husband Ben are juggling the restaurant with raising twins, and a fire destroys the restaurant's kitchen. What happens next is a true testament to what local cooking and eating really mean.