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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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