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Vivian Howard’s Sunday Dinner Spaghetti Sauce

All parents strive to feed their children healthy meals — and Vivian Howard is no different. When it comes to this challenge, Howard, host of the award-winning PBS show, “A Chef’s Life,” has realized that she is drawn to leaner meats and dishes that allow her to add some vegetables but leave the eater unaware. Turkey has become one of her go-to lean meats over the years with her children. It started when the twins, Flo and Theo, were eating baby fo

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Way Down Yonder in the Pawpaw Patch

What may be the largest pawpaw patch in North Carolina belongs to Wynn Dinnsen, owner of Full of Life Farms nursery in Chatham County. Dinnsen, 63, didn’t set out with such an ambition. He fell into it after tasting a pawpaw for the first time about 20 years ago while working as a landscaper. One day on the job, a man installing solar panels held up the strange, mango-like fruit and asked him h

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Sheri Castle’s Salted Caramel Banana Pudding

From “Instantly Southern: 85 Southern Favorites for Your Pressure Cooker, Multicooker, and Instant Pot®” by Sheri CastleSALTED CARAMEL BANANA PUDDINGMakes 6 ServingsBanana pudding is my favorite Southern dessert that isn’t pound cake. Among my pudding prin

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“Instantly Southern” Gets Home-cooked Meals on the Table in Half the Time

Sheri Castle has been writing cookbooks and teaching cooking classes for more than 20 years. You’ll recognize her from season three’s episode “A Casserole Says Plenty”  when Vivian exalts her as a “Southern food storyteller of the highest degree.” Sheri can spin a hilarious tale with comedic timing as sharp as a butcher’s cleaver, whi

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The History of North Carolina’s Cantaloupe Festival

Every second Saturday of July, the unincorporated town of Ridgeway hosts its annual Cantaloupe Festival. In its 10th year, the fest celebrates a deep history of growing a fruit that put the name of this Warren County crossroads on the menu at the country's finest restaurants and hotels, including New York's Waldorf Astoria.Ridgeway Historical Society vice-president Dan Bender says

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How to Pick Your Melons (Hint: Leave it to the Farmer)

It’s always a bit tricky to call a farmer during the day, a person who will inevitably be busy either chugging along on a tractor or knee-deep in the weeds.But when we called our beloved farmer Warren Brothers one recent morning to bombard him with questions about watermelons, we found him just as cheerful as usual.“You caught me at the right time,” he says. “We were just out here thumping and looking at the curly Qs.” Watermelons are a favor

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Talking Dirty: Vivian Shares How She Handles Laundry Woes

With twins and a busy career, there’s always a lot of laundry to be done in Vivian’s Kinston home. Vivian shared her laundry challenges and routine. Electrolux is a sponsor of “A Chef’s Life” and your resource for a full line of front-load washers and dryers.  What is the laundry routine in your house? Everybody does laundry. I hate folding laundry. I’m re

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Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach Pie

We may be late to the Atlantic Beach pie party but this recipe is still worth sharing.This creamy, citrusy pie with a cracker crust is the work of Bill Smith, the executive chef at the landmark Chapel Hill restaurant Crook’s Corner. Longtime fans of “A Chef’s Life” will be familiar with Smith, who showed Vivian how to make persimmon pudding in season five and corned ham in the “A Chef’s Life Holiday Special.” </

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Get the Recipe: Vivian's Grilled Corn with Bacon Mayonnaise & Pecorino Romano

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, we’re sharing Vivian’s recipe for grilled corn with — drumroll please — bacon mayonnaise. Once you try this recipe, you will not go back to plain, buttered corn. This recipe makes more bacon mayonnaise than you need but it’s also really good on baked potatoes, grilled asparagus and more. Here’s one more suggestion: If you are enjoying a grilled feast this weekend, we recommend you pair it with a beer from one of our show sponsors: Summer

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Get the Recipe: Vivian's Black Bean-Glazed Salmon

If you have been following the food television awards season, you may have heard that a video starring Vivian for Panna Cooking won a James Beard Foundation's broadcast award. The video featured Vivian making Black Bean-glazed Salmon with Ginger Cabbage, one of her family's favorite recipes. Panna Cooking is a website that offers online cooking classes from some of the best chefs in the co

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Vivian Talks Duke's, the Cool Kids' Mayonnaise

In an interview about Duke’s Mayonnaise, Vivian Howard shares her conversion to the Southern brand and why mayo is so important to Southern food. The iconic Southern mayonnaise, based in Richmond, Virginia, is a proud sponsor of season five of A CHEF’S LIFE. Q: Did you grow up with Duke’s Mayonnaise?A: I grew up with Miracle Whip. I didn’t really understand Duke’s until I became part

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How Vivian Balances Healthy and Hectic Every Day

In case you haven’t noticed, Vivian Howard is busy. Season five of her James Beard- and Emmy Award-winning PBS series “A Chef’s Life” recently wrapped. In March, she was able to squeeze in a 40th birthday celebration after several days of filming and cooking in Charleston, S.C.. She then scurried back to Kinston to host a retirement party for a friend at her farm-to-table restaurant, Chef & the Farmer. Then it was off to Hawaii for a week of appearances and book signings before landing b

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Meet The Peanut Farmers and The Peanut Roasters

Marty and Donna Harper are peanut farmers. Betsy Owens, and her husband, Jack Lawrence, are peanut roasters. Beyond an affinity for this lowly legume, the couples have another connection: a patch of farmland in eastern North Carolina.The Harpers both come from long lines of farmers. Marty’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all small-scale farmers. Donna’s family was the same: “I’m a Lenoir County farmer’s daughter. I swore I’d never marry one. Now I’m raising two.” The

Skillet-Fried Pizza

My husband Ben is a pizza junkie. He grew up in Chicago where he delivered pizzas for Lou Malnati’s and eventually moved to New York where he made it his mission to try and critique every famed pizza joint the city and its boroughs had to offer. Then Ben settled in eastern North Carolina where the pinnacle of the pizza scene is Papa John's and Little Caesars. Bless his heart. The lack of quality pizza was difficult for Ben to accept, so I went to work on making pizza with a chew

Strawberry Cornbread Coffee Cake with Almond Streusel

Cornbread is close to my heart; it is savory, chewy, crisp on the outside and dense within. This is not that but it is a cross between coffee cake and the sweet fluffy cornbread outside the South and which I call corncake. Corncake is light, airy and sugary all the way through. I hate to admit this but it tastes good. This Strawberry Cornbread Coffee Cake is my stab at a corncake with substance — one that no one is going to mistaken for cornbread.This baked deliciousness can work for

Eastern North Carolina Style Shrimp and Fennel Stew with Poached Eggs, Potatoes and Bacon

The Dutch oven is the workhorse of my kitchen. It is the one I reach for when boiling water or making any soup or stew, like this fish stew, thick with onions, potatoes, poached eggs, and a rich tomato-y, bacon-laced broth. This dish defines both my childhood and my region —  eastern North Carolina. For me, it’s the eggs that make the stew special and distinct from all the other seafood stews of the world. But I’ll admit that as a kid, the white bread used for sopping up the leftover bro

Fried Green Tomatoes with Apple Mustard and an Apple, Aged Cheddar and Arugula Salad

Apple butter and fried green tomatoes are Southern staples, but not necessarily things you think of eating together. Apple butter on toast? Yes. On a fried green tomato? No. Pimento cheese and bacon on green tomatoes? Yes. With arugula, apple and cheddar? No. But from my perspective apples and green tomatoes are both early fall ingredients. And because I believe what grows together goes together, apples and green tomatoes are a match made in the seasonal, preservation-minded kitche

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A Twist on Mrs. Scarlett's Deviled Eggs

If you are going to make Easter eggs, you might as well boil some extra to make deviled eggs for the holiday meal. We’ve got some fun twists on Mrs. Scarlett’s Deviled Eggs from the egg episode in season two — added country ham, collards and chowchow to our filling. A few tips: make sure the butter is room temperature soft or it will be too hard to squeeze through the piping bag and nozzle. Read the recipe through first if you want to do a variation; the added ingredient can change the

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A Chef's Life Fans Share Their Le Creuset Stories

We asked “A Chef’s Life” fans to share stories about their beloved Le Creuset pots and pans. And boy did they have stories to tell — about their family heirlooms, how they splurged on a set for themselves or received them as gifts. One lucky fan even rescued a Dutch oven from a South Carolina landfill! Read all the endearing Everyday Le Creuset stories from A CHEF’S LIFE fans below.Family HeirloomsRussell Smit

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Where You Want to Collect Everything

There’s nothing quite like the sight of a beautifully-laid table and the feeling of being fussed over enough for the hostess to pull out “the good china.” It’s a little known fact that Vivian is a sucker for elegant dishes, glassware and the other items that grace festive tables. Replacements, the Greensboro-based company

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Between The Scenes: A Conversation with David Cecelski

No one may know more about eastern North Carolina history than David Cecelski, an accomplished historian who has spent his entire career focused on the place where he grew up. A Chef’s Life fans will recognize Cecelski from season five’s pear episode, where he and his daughter, Vera, showed Vivian how they make pear preserves. We wanted to share our interview with the Harvard-trained historian, encourage our fans to read his blog, and maybe be inspired by his advice to do their own

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Between the Scenes: Vivian Brews Beer at Sierra Nevada

Last summer, Vivian visited Sierra Nevada brewery in Mills River, N.C., outside of Asheville. She went to watch Sierra Nevada’s vice president Brian Grossman and his team brew a cucumber thyme Saison for the “A Chef’s Life’s” premiere party this past September. Beyond helping create a refreshing beer, Vivian left with a ton of knowledge about the brewing process, Sierra Nevada, and how challenging cucumber is as a beer ingredient. She and Brian, whose father Ken started <a ta

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Holiday Shopping: Our Favorite 2017 Cookbooks

Are you looking for holiday gifts for the home cook in your life? We asked a few North Carolina cookbook authors to share their favorite books this year. Their suggestions and a few of our own are sure to make someone on your list very happy. Sheri Castle has written a number of excellent cookbooks including “https://www.amazon.com/New-Southern-Garden-Cookbook-Hom

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Between the Scenes: Kings BBQ & Parker's BBQ

In season five’s final episodes, Vivian visited two well-known barbecue restaurants in Eastern North Carolina: Parker’s BBQ in Greenville and Kings BBQ in Kinston. At Parker’s, Vivian dined on chicken livers. At Kings, she took away an order of “pig and a puppy,” a barbecue and coleslaw-stuffed hush puppy. If you are headed to eastern North Carolina this holiday season, you

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Support A Chef's Life, Buy Some Holiday Gifts

This is the time of year when you can knock two items off your to-do list: • Make a dent in your holiday shopping• Support your favorite PBS showAll purchases in the Chef's Life online store go to support the making of the show, which viewers have grown to love over the last five seasons. The funding

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A Duke’s Story: Ben Knight’s Love Affair with Mayo

Viewers of “A Chef’s Life” know that there may be no bigger fan of mayonnaise than Vivian’s husband, Ben Knight. In episode 10 of season four, Vivian staged a blind taste test of various mayonnaise brands. Chef & the Farmer staff dipped their spoons and tasted, and competed to see who could identify them. While the taste test was a lot of fun, it also revealed Ben’s deep love of mayonnaise, like when he sneaked another tablespoonful or dipped a piece of bread full on into

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The South’s First Family of Commercial Fishing

Sunburst Trout Farms, tucked away in the picturesque landscape of the North Carolina mountains, began in 1948 as the South’s first commercial trout farm. With help from state agencies like North Carolina Department of Agriculture and its Got to Be NC Seafood entity, the family-owned farm has become a vital part of North Carolina’s diverse seafood industry.Today, North Carolina is ranked

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Holy Loch Neuse Dragon, Kinston Gets a New Playground!

In June 2017, nearly 100 volunteers descended on Kinston to build a playground in about six hours. As daunting as the task sounds, Wash., D.C.-based non-profit KaBOOM! has built 3,000 playgrounds around the country in a day’s time by gathering hundreds of volunteers to assemble slides, swings, and ultimately, make thousands of kids super happy. In partnership with Blue Cross an

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We Talk Wood Carving with Jamie Jones

Fans may recognize Jamie Jones from his previous brief appearances on “A Chef’s Life.” He built the henhouse for the family’s flock of chickens and competed in the potato salad contest in the “One Potato, Two Potato” episode in the third season.What fans don’t know is that Jones has been a longtime fixture in Vivian’s life. They went to middle school together and Vivian says, “Jamie was the hottest guy in the whole school. He was something.” Jones and his wife, Rebecc

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A CHEF’S LIFE Season 5: When to Watch

Check below to find out when A CHEF’S LIFE Season 5 is airing on your local PBS Station!*  If you do not see your station listed, check your local listings or call your station to let them know you are a fan of A Chef’s Life. ALABAMA • WBIQ AL PTV, Birmingham, AL at 11am Saturdays starting Oct. 28CALIFOR

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Talkin' Pig Pickin' with Sam Jones

You might remember Sam Jones from season four’s “Stand By Your Cabbage” episode. Sam and his family are legends in the world of whole hog barbecue: his father and uncle own the Skylight Inn BBQ in Ayden, N.C. and Sam owns Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville, near Greenville, N.C. As autumn and pig

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#ACLHiFive Day Party Kicks Off Season Five Festivities in Durham!

Vivian and the A CHEF’S LIFE crew are gearing up for the big party in downtown Durham on Sunday Sept. 10! We’ve already told you about the screening of “Two-Mato,” the first episode of season five at Carolina Theatre, but below is a list of the (FREE!) events we have planned to make our season five shindig fun for all!We are throwing a day party...And it’s free to all!What: #ACLHiFive Day PartyWhen:<

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Our Favorite Bites On The Way To The Beach

Driving to the beach for vacation not only offers the opportunity for good food at your final destination but also along the way. With that in mind, we offer three tasty destinations no matter where you are headed along the North Carolina coast.  Crystal CoastFor those going to the Crystal Coast, enjoy the shrimp burger at El’s Drive-In in Morehead City, which Vivi

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Rules of the Rows

Despite the crazy spring weather where warm fronts were followed by late freezes, the strawberry crop survived and pick-your-own strawberry farms are now open.“We are looking at a very good year for strawberries,” said Dexter Hill, a strawberry marketing specialist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. “We’re looking at very good yields.”For those headed out to pick strawberries, we sought advice from Curtis Smith, owner

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Food52 Cookbook Club Picks DEEP RUN ROOTS

This month, home cooks across the country are putting up jars of pickled beets, baking sweet potato and turkey shepherd’s pies and salivating over plates of marinated turnips with orange and pumpkin seeds.That’s because Vivian’s cookbook, “Deep Run Roots,” was selected by Food52’s readers to be the second book for its inau

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Ted Katsigianis Talks 30 Years at Biltmore

Ted Katsigianis is a walking encyclopedia of all things Biltmore. His extensive knowledge of the Biltmore grounds is a result of 33 years of service on the 8000-acre estate. He currently serves as Vice President of Agricultural Sciences, working to keep up George Vanderbilt’s original vision for the estate to be a self-sustaining working farm. Ted maintains that emphasis on agriculture, a daunting task that includes oversight of Bil

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BEHIND-THE-SCENES: New Team Member, Andrea Weigl

Please join us in welcoming Andrea Weigl to Team ACL! Many of you may know Andrea from her years as a respected journalist. She is not one to brag, but she brings a ton of know-how to our team that spans a plethora of subjects as proven by her recent James Beard Foundation Award nomination in a new journalism category for local impact for her stories: “Southern Season’s Woes Ripple Through State”; “The True Story of a Chef’s Chef”; and “Pitmaster: Sam Jones Takes ’cue to the Next L

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Between-The-Scenes: Recipes from African-American Elders

On A Chef’s Life, Vivian quite often yields to the knowledge held by community home cooks. We are proud to uphold the wisdom of African American elders in our own community like Miss Lillie Hardy and her mother, Miss Mary Vaughn, whose personal stories of the south and its food include both hardship and happiness. In celebration of Black History Month, we pay homage to the inspiration and recipes shared by African American cooks who’ve been featured on A CHEF’S LIFE over the

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Traveling Back in Time at Biltmore

Back in September, Vivian and the A Chef’s Life crew were invited up for a long weekend at Biltmore and a behind-the-scenes tour of the estate’s glorious grounds. The weekend was chock full of events for which the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains made the perfect backdrop. An intimate village stroll and a shuttle tour showcased Biltmore’s endless acres of farmland and introduced Vivian to a handful of the 2000+ employees who

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Between The Scenes: Best of 2016

With 10 episodes added to our growing roster of ingredients, we thought it would be fun to compile our favorite moments from this season in our first ever “Best Of” Awards. 1. Best Holiday Gift Inspired By An EpisodePigtails, Ham hocks, and fatback, oh my!  The gift of seasoning meats Vivian distributed at her New York book launch dinner was so peculiar, Ben couldn’t keep his opinion to himself, exclaiming, “I’m not gonn

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Aaron Newton of Lomax Farm Talks Incubating Young Farmers

The Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm is a special place. The six-year-old, 30-acre farm in Concord, North Carolina is basically a hands-on classroom where a new generation of farmers learn the skills necessary to eventually start their own farms. One of Lomax’s former Farmers In Training, (or F.I.T.s as they’re known on the farm), is Ben Street whose produce is featured in the first episode of season 4 of A

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Andrew Zimmern Seeks Bizarre Food in Kinston, NC

Andrew Zimmern is known for trotting the globe in search of the world’s most Bizarre Foods, however, his mission is much more than uncovering strange cuisine. He considers himself a food historian charged with the task of celebrating the international nooks and crannies where food traditions are well-kept. A few days before he and Vivian faced off in the “Best Personality/Host” category of the Jame

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7 QUESTIONS FOR ACL Voyager, Blaire Johnson

Blaire Johnson, ACL’s lone female ‘camera dude,’ is also a pirate. When she’s not capturing amazing aerial shots of North Carolina bean fields or wielding her badass camera rig, she’s buckled down in a shanty on the NC coast doing pirate-like things. Blaire is a skilled cameraperson with many probing documentary projects under her belt. We asked her a few questions about her eclectic life on land and at sea.Q: Tell us all the interesting tidbits about yourself.

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6 Questions for ACL’s Newcomer, Christine Delp

As a recent graduate of Duke University’s documentary program, Christine Delp brings a fresh perspective to the ACL Team. Christine, like many of A CHEF’S LIFE team members, has family ties to eastern North Carolina and personally identifies with the tone of the show as well as the wealth of personalities highlighted in each episode. As the youngest member of the team, Christine is what we might call, spry. We talked to her about the energy she brings to the team as well as he

OUTTAKE: Mrs. Scarlett’s Tangy Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are a classic, crowd-pleasing hors d’oeuvre diverse enough to make an appearance at church suppers, potlucks, and holiday tables. If you’re reading this right now, it's likely you have your own special way of preparing deviled eggs. Maybe it’s a no-frills recipe passed down from your grandmother, or maybe you’ve concocted your own recipe with an extra punch of flavor. Whatever it may be, it’s safe to say, the deviled egg is versatile enough to grace any

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6 Questions for ACL’s Elusive Editor Extraordinaire, Tom Vickers

Wonder why you’ve never seen Tom Vickers? The answer is simple. He’s headquartered in a bat cave surrounded by screens and knobs and high-tech trinkets that allow him to organize the images you see each week on A CHEF’S LIFE into a cohesive, beautifully-crafted story. He only emerges for food and a good film, but, we lured Tom into the light long enough to ask a few questions about his unique role as editor of A CHEF’S LIFE. Read all about it here, before he disappears.<b

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6 Questions for ACL’s Coordinator of Chaos, Holley Pearce

It’s very likely that you’ve seen Holley Pearce lurking in the background on any given episode of A CHEF’S LIFE. Holley, a Mississippi native and Kinston transplant, has served as Chef Vivian’s personal ‘coordinator of chaos’ since August 2015. She basically has Chef Vivian’s schedule memorized, and imposes some sense of normalcy in the roster of festivals, appearances, and food demos that are growing as a result of the show’s (and Chef Vivian’s) popularity. We forced Holley

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Where's Vivian?

Keep this blog post handy...Vivian Howard is one busy chef these days! From speaking panels to fundraisers and her upcoming book tour, we want to make sure you have every possibility to see her in action. We'll update this page as we are informed of new engagements. Don't forget to follow A CHEF'S LIFE on Facebook, Twitter, _

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4 Questions for ACL's Associate Producer, Shirlette Ammons

Among many things, Shirlette Ammons, (self-proclaimed) Wielder-Of-Wit, pens the first drafts of all of the ACL newsletters you receive in your inbox. We forced her to be featured in this month’s “Behind-the-Team”. After much convincing, her cover has been blown...Tell us all the interesting tidbits about yourself:I’m a native of Mount Olive, down in eastern North Carolina, just a

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WE GOT SOUL Pt1: Chef Ricky Moore

When we think soul food, certain dishes automatically come to mind-- collard greens, cornbread, fried chicken-- all the foods we trace back to our grandmother’s kitchen table sprawled out and inviting us to feed our bellies and our spirit. Talking to Chef Ricky Moore about soul food is a lively experience. Fans of A CHEF’S LIFE might remember him from Chef Vivian’s romp around Durham (Ep8: Honey, I'm Home

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WE GOT SOUL Pt2: Chef Scholar, Scott Barton

In a recent interview, Scott Barton, Chef Vivian's mentor, and respected soul food authority, offered in-depth, scholarly insight on the influence of African-American culture on southern food.1) First, what led you to care so deeply for the culture of southern food and the contribution of African and African-Americans to it?Shirlette, there are several reasons that I first became interested in southern food in general, the contributions of African and African-Americ

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4 Questions for ACL's Associate Producer, Jenn Cromling

Full disclosure: Jenn was a reluctant participant in our “Behind-the-Team” romp. A self-described “introvert with extroverted tendencies,” Jenn is the ACL Team Ninja, stealthily completing tasks in the dark of night, constantly crossing t’s, dotting i’s... and taking names. She humbly admits, "There's a lot of talent on our team, so knowing yourself and being your own kind of awesome is important and powerful. My style is quite yet assertive and to the point. 

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5 Questions for ACL's Cam Dude: Rex Miller

You may know Rex Miller as the taller half of A CHEF’S LIFE’s camera dudes and photographer extraordinaire behind the images in Chef Vivian’s forthcoming cookbook. Beyond his work on A CHEF’S LIFE, the NY native is the father of two lovely daughters, an avid tennis buff, and has a long, rewarding career in both photography and filmmaking, which makes you wonder how he makes time to do it all. His most recent

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Between the Scenes: A look back at #ThirdHelping

According to fans and critics alike, A CHEF’S LIFE’s third season was a real appetite-quencher. Appearances on The Today Show and the penning of her upcoming cookbook revealed Chef Vivian as a celebrity-on-the-rise who, somehow, manages to wear many hats. In the course of her busy life, Chef Vivian made time to take us into the home kitchens of the folks who’ve influenced and inspired her—cooking “old timey squash and onions” with Mrs. Scarlett, plucking Falling Creek Produce

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It's All About Me: Interview with A CHEF’S LIFE fav, Miss Lillie Hardy

Ever since her initial appearance on A Chef’s Life, Miss Lillie Hardy has emerged as a series favorite. Fans from all over the country have fallen completely in love with Miss Lillie’s “it’s all about me” charm. Her dishes, especially those buttermilk biscuits, make us all long for the invention of smell-o-vision. Miss Lillie’s generosity is exemplified in each episode where she shares the wisdom of old foodways with Chef Vivian at a kitchen table that seats 2.5 million viewers per episode.<

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Handmade & Heartfelt - Interview with Sheri Castle, Author of Cookbooks & Curator of Casseroles

Nestled in North Carolina’s culturally rich, socially isolated Blue Ridge Mountains, Sheri Castle was inspired to write her first original recipe at 4 years old and mailed it to a television show. One could say this initiated a lifelong relationship with both writing and food. The writing portion of her career began as a student at UNC where she studied English and, subsequently worked as a writer in numerous industries. The food portion of her career began in the 1990s when she sw

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A Real Reality - Interview with A CHEF’S LIFE creators Cynthia Hill & Vivian Howard

Both Cynthia Hill and Vivian Howard are natives of down east North Carolina. Five years ago, they came together to create what they thought would be a documentary about preserving endangered southern foodways. What resulted is the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning PBS docu-series, A CHEF’S LIFE, which, upon conclusion of its second season, boasts over 2.5 million viewers per episode. With Season 3 set to premiere in early September on PBS stations nationwide, we sat down with Chef Vivian and Cy

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Jason Vincent: King of Pork & Parenthood

Jason Vincent rose from the ashes of his own semi-retirement to make a cameo appearance on the nail-biting Tom Thumb episode of A CHEF’S LIFE, which aired as a two-parter in season two. At what some called the height of his career, Jason exited his role as Executive Chef at Chicago’s renowned Nightwood Restaurant to tackle the ultimate gig of full-time father. As of late, he's been raising a toddler while tweeting and <a targe

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Bottle That Word "Dream"

PART 1: Inventing the Dream  When it comes to branding and bottling a dream, not much has changed since 1868 when Edwin Mcllhenny used discarded cologne bottles to distribute his now-iconic Tabasco sauce to family and friends. Each batch of his sauce boasted the exact same flavor profile, with branding as distinguishable as its taste.   McIlhenny’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Tabasco set the standard way before the m

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Ed’s A CHEF’S LIFE Vacation: Around Downeast in 2 Days

I’m from San Francisco where there is an embarrassment of culinary riches on almost every block. That doesn’t make me a likely candidate for a trip to the middle of Eastern North Carolina, yet I was inspired by a PBS TV series starring a rising chef who found her own catharsis by going back home and opening a restaurant, Chef and the Farmer. A CHEF’S LIFE makes me care about Vivian Howard’s demanding life and the local people who support her on her journey. Each week I learn something unique abou

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El’s Drive-In: A Destination for Locals...and Folks From Off

What is it about the combination of shrimp, ketchup, slaw and a buttery bun that makes us slobber like newborns? Whatever the answer, there’s a family restaurant on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast where it behooves you to bring a bib.El’s Drive-In is one of those places who do it simple and get it right. The building itself is no bigger than a hut, but the flavors inside are humongous. Their shrimp burger is featured in a few fleeting bites of A CHEF’S LIFE

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Brian Roberts, Head Bartender at Chef & the Farmer, and “A Chef’s Life” Family, On Moonshine

Brian Roberts, Head Bartender at Chef and the Farmer, and “A Chef’s Life” Family. On Moonshine.   I often view life through the lens of cinema. Much of what I experience in “real life” is a reference point for something from film or television. Cocktails are a prime example. I think “cocktail” and my mind – for better or worse – goes immediately to Sex in the City; to Carrie Bradshaw & Co. in all their Jimmy Choo, Prada-clad glory, convening at

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Buttermilk

There’s this myth surrounding chefs these days, building us up to be much more than just folks going to work and doing their best to create tasty food that we feel good about. Instead, the job title suggests we know every technique, every temperature, and every thought process behind every dish out there. I would like to blame the media or the celebrity-chef consciousness for these assumptions, but the fact is, we as chefs don’t do much to discourage these misconceptions.  As a

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On Buttermilk, with Phoebe Lawless, Scratch Bakery

Phoebe Lawless is the pie maven behind the award-winning Scratch Bakery, a beloved neighborhood spot in Durham. Crowds flock near and far for their signature doughnut muffins and their Buttermilk Sugar Pie. The Ohio native got her start as a pastry assistant along

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On Collard Greens with John T. Edge of The Southern Foodways Alliance

Every time I see John T. Edge, I am struck by his sense of sartorial flair. At last sighting (talking his newly-edited compendium, The Larder, at _

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Collard Greens

I’m often asked how the series, “A Chef’s Life,” came to be. Truthfully it’s a long, drawn-out story involving about 3,000 phone conversations and lots of miles driven between Durham and Deep Run. I won’t share with you all the logistics of the near nightmare but I will share the beginnings of my desire to docume

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On Sweet Potatoes, with Chefs Ben & Karen Barker, Magnolia Grill

If I have any culinary regrets, one would be moving to the Triangle too late to eat at Ben and Karen Barker’s legendary Magnolia Grill before they closed their doors forevermore. Fortunately an award-winning cookbook survived to tell the tale, along

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Sweet Potatoes

When I think of sweet potatoes, I think of my Grandma Hill and of Thanksgiving. The youngest of 10 children, Grandma Hill began life as a farmer’s daughter in Duplin County, NC. Over time she would become a farmer’s wife, mother and eventually grandmother. She moved and loved like someone who’s work was never done and rarely noticed. Grandma Hill was strong, always digging in the yard under a white brimmed hat, or making work in her kitchen look ea

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Peanuts

I’ve been dreading the writing of this blog post. I like peanuts, particularly in Snickers Bars or candied by a street vendor in New York and shoved into a little white bag, still warm. I just don’t have a whole hell of a lot to say about them. My dad didn’t grow them. I didn’t eat them boiled as a kid and I don’t

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On Peanuts, with Martin Weeks, the Peanut Man

You could call Martin Weeks "the peanut man." The Mount Olive, NC native worked in textiles and industrial engineering for most of his life, but when his father passed away six years ago, he discovered an unusual new venture. Instead of enjoying leisurely rounds of golf with other retirees, he found himself cooking peanuts in his church's kitchen until late into the night. He followed in his father's footsteps and became head of the "Peanut Crew"—a 15-member group of

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On Rice, with Chef John Currence,

John Currence got his culinary start in the galley kitchen of a tugboat, honed his chops with Bill Neal of Crook’s Corner and in some of the best kitchens in New Orleans. Fast forward to 2013. John is the benevolent ruler of

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Rice

I’ve mentioned my mom’s life-long bout with rheumatoid arthritis before. Through two shoulder replacements and many other reconstructive surgeries, she raised four girls, taught school, and bred Doberman Pinchers for spending money. As you might imagine, meals were simple at my house. Mom didn’t fry chicken, can pickles, or roll out biscuits. Instead, when Scarlett geared up to make a soul warming meal for our family, it was almost always a pot of chicken and rice. Hands down, this is

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On Muscadines, with Inez Ribustello, On the Square Restaurant & Wine

Inez Ribustello is one hell of a storyteller. When she talks I see the hammock-shaped branches of her parents’ scuppernong tree. I feel the headiness that only a humid summer in Eastern NC can produce. I taste the sweetness of the muscadines. Her approach to wine is fun, accessible, and above all, perso

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Grapes

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family that loved to eat, but my most powerful childhood memories center around food. I don’t remember tearing into presents on Christmas morning. Instead, I recall shoveling down sausage biscuits and orange juice, and I smile when I think about how Uncle Bunk lost a toot

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On oysters with Matt Lee, The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen

Matt Lee is one of those lucky people who call Charleston home. He and his bespectacled brother, Ted, grew up in one of the city’s fabled homes along Rainbow Row, fishing in its waters for crabs and shrimp, and learning the names of the edible flora and fauna of their region. Food talk—especial

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Oysters

As a kid I didn’t think too much of the oyster. Far too often, my parents' love for the bivalves got between me and The Baron and The Beef, Lenoir County’s best dining experience. The name says it all: imagine a steak and baked potato shrine with an “excellent” salad bar (including the most tender meatballs in

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The Taste of Summer: Growing Heirloom Tomatoes in NC With Your Family

As summer comes to a close, so, too, does the season of fresh tomatoes. For a short few months, fresh, sun-ripened tomatoes are plentiful across the state, filling up backyards and farmers markets. That taste—so tart and sweet and fresh—is fleeting, though. It's perhaps one of the most accessible and loved seasonal vegetables around, but getting a really good tomato means eating seasonally and locally.And if you, like many of us here, subscrib

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A Local Tomato

Chef and the Farmer is a seasonal restaurant. That mantra manifests itself all over the place these days, but really what it means is this: our menu reflects the natural world. When the leaves start to turn and there’s a little nip in the air—like now—I turn to things like apples, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and game birds to spell autumn. The funny thing about our world today is that I could spell autumn all year long using a food service provider and, honestly? You

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On Tomatoes with Chef Kevin Gillespie, Gunshow

Kevin is a thinking man’s chef. Every which way you could think about food, he’s thought about it. And then some.  That organic intellectualism came from his Georgia mountain homeplace, where his close-knit family ate the food they grew. His family's ways of cooking, and his strong sense of identity as a Southe

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On Pork with Chef Sam Jones, Skylight Inn

The preacher of pork; the porcine professor; the prince of barbecue—whatever you call him, Sam Jones makes some damn good Q: whole hog, no sauce, cooked open-pit over wood fire for hours and mixed with plenty of hand-chopped cracklin. His barbecue is one of the best history lessons you'll ever learn;

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Pork Cracklins

My dad always says the person who makes the most out of the least is really doing something. Much of Southern food and the pork cracklin for sure grew out of this mantra. Don’t waste anything. You may think it’s trash, but we’re gonna make it tasty. Pork cracklins, historically, were just a by-product of rendering lard after a hog killing; a snack, meant to be eaten with a roast sweet potato at the end of a long day spent stuffing sausage, salt rubbi

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Grits

As a kid I microwaved my grits. My mother would no more have slow cooked the suckers than slaughtered a chicken. So instead, I stirred my Uncle Ben’s together with Velveeta singles and crumbled sausage, plopped myself down in front of Pee Wee Herman and called it a fine Saturday morning. I knew I lived in the South of

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On Grits with Chef Jay Pierce, Lucky 32

Jay Pierce gets southern food. He grew up in a suburb of New Orleans and has long been exposed to the bold and vivacious flavors of The Big Easy. Several years spent working in some of the best kitchens in New Orleans and Orlando have made him into a true Southern chef. Since planting roots with his family in Greensboro, NC, he's been a devoted advocate in the local food movement there and is passionate about making hi

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Strawberries

If you’re reading this, you probably know I grew up in rural, rural Eastern North Carolina. Living in the country meant our water came from a well and unlike “Little House on the Prairie” and the Dear Liza song, our well was serviced by a pump. We had what I grew up calling a pump house, a little structure that mimicked the design of our home, surrounding the pump...a pump house. My mom planted a strawberry patch around it sometime shortly after I was born

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On Strawberries with April McGreger, Farmer's Daughter Preserves

April McGreger is a pickling pro and her preserves are probably better than your granny's. Growing up on a sweet potato farm in Mississippi, her mother and grandmother taught her southern-style canning. In 2007, she started The Farmer's Daughter in Hillsborough, NC, making preserves, pickles, chutneys, and chow-chows, sellin

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Sweet Corn

I’m spending the week with my family at Emerald Isle, NC. We take a week every summer, rent a beach house here and spend every hour in each other’s presence. We do not go out for dinner in small groups, and spending time with friends or inviting non-family members over is frowned upon. This week is pretty much family time, all the time. As you might imagine, I do most of the cooking and it’s actually something I enjoy. The week before our trip I treat like the lead-

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On Corn with Chef Matt Kelly, Mateo Tapas

With the exception of visible tattoos, Matt Kelly is what I would call a chef's chef. By choice, he still cooks in his kitchen. His food is creative without being self-indulgent. And he relies on proper technique and an acute sensibility rather than micro/chemical pyrotechtronics to produce some of the